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I awoke to a glorious Easter Sunday in Boise! Always a blessing to get up and greet the sun. We’ve had a winter that didn’t seem to want to end. There was snow just last Thursday.
Our minister told a packed house; “Anyone who likes to garden has faith. It is an act of faith to put a seed in the ground and look forward to it springing forth with new life.” Let’s get out there planting little sprouts to bring hope to ourselves and others.
Five years ago I would never expected to see police in uniform on duty with a bomb sniffing dog at church. Now we are getting to use to it. We had one at the Cathedral of the Rockies at Christmas too. This time the policeman was extremely kind to everyone and the gorgeous German Shepard was very photogenic. Fortunately, their presence was not needed.
We always buy flowers at Easter from the church youth group to help support youth mission trips in the summer. The pink and blue hydrangeas have thrived in my back yard. The one we go this year practically shouts, “Look at me!”
I buy the Calla Lilies in honor of my daughter Kayla, both the lily and Kayla have roots to China but grow well in Idaho. This year I am blessed to have both flowers and daughter grace my house with beauty.
This is the twenty-second year I have hidden Easter baskets, a family tradition. I will miss it when Kayla goes away to college, one more year of baskets. We learned this year with Scott home for a while that you are never too old to bite off the ears of a chocolate bunny.
My son is off to Seattle May first to expand his world and hopefully hunt down a good first job. We are all very excited for him. The purpose of parenthood is to raise children who can float by themselves. I will miss his good humor, beautiful photographs and noise around the house.
Our male tom cat, Satch, had a good Easter. He discovered a box in the house just his size, always a delight. The weather was perfect for cats to lay outside and soak up sun.
Easter is a time of new beginnings. May this year bring out the very best in you and your family. Thanks for reading.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month: This year’s National Sexual Violence Resource Center campaign theme is “Engaging New Voices.” We definitely need more voices to fight President Trump’s budget. Trump proposes eliminating the Justice Department’s Office on Violence against Women. In the U.S.an estimated 1 in 4 women will suffer severe physical abuse in their life-time. About 3 women a day are murdered by someone they date or are married to. The highly publicized killing of a teacher and student yesterday (April 10, 2017) was by an estranged husband. The President’s proposed cuts would reduce services to at least 260,000 victims of sexual assault and violence annually (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-budget-domestic-abuse-victims_us_58cc2184e4b0ec9d29dbd9f7)
Melania Trump Thwarts Her Husband’s “Made in America” Campaign: Mrs. Trump’s official portrait was released last Monday (April 2, 2017). Rather than showcasing an American designer, Mrs. Trump chose a tuxedo jacket from Italian luxury house Dolce & Gabbana. Mrs. Trump’s choice of European designers for a majority of her appearances seems in direct conflict President’s Trump’s emphasis on American manufacturing and inflammatory rhetoric on imposing limits on global trade. Mrs. Trump looked stunning in a blue outfit by American designer Ralph Lauren for Trump’s Inauguration. Obviously, if she chose to highlight American designers, she could be very influential in selling American haut couture around the world. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/03/politics/melania-trump-white-house-portrait/
Trump’s Tweet Wars Continue: Syria may have provided President Trump with the opportunity to demonstrate his willingness to take dramatic military action. His tweet action continues unabated. Since being elected he has waged tweet wars on the Australian Prime Minister, an acting Attorney General, seven predominately Muslim countries, a “so called” federal judge, Sweden, “Fake Tears”, Chuck Schumer, Saturday Night Live, the FBI, the un-American leakers in the intelligence community, the City of Paris, Mark Cuban, John McCain, millions of protestors, Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Cuomo, the University of California at Berkeley, ratings “disaster”, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, the “Traitor” Chelsea Manning, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Barack Obama, the City of Chicago, Susan Rice, among many, many others. While Trump pounds out alarming negative tweets about most people, he was call Bill O’Reilly a “good man”. This was at the very time Fox News is hemorrhaging from paying off sexual harassment law suits and loosing advertisers for O’Reilly’s inappropriate treatment of women. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-on-trump-the-destroyer-w473144
Ivanka Trump, A Goddess in China and Featured as Complicit on SNL in America: Ms. Trump’s daughter entertained Chinese President XI anad his wife when they visited Mar-a-lago April 6 and 7. Ivanka was called a “Goddess” on Chinese social media. This post was one of the most read, shared and discussed posts from NYTIMES.COM last week. Ms. Trump recently became a federal employee and top advisor to the President, without pay, formalizing a role she had been undertaking as a volunteer. Here in America, Saturday Night Live has spoofed Ms. Trump for her failure to defend women’s issues by naming a perfume “Complicit” for her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7o4oMKbStE
Confusion Reigns in Trump White House while Trump Poll Numbers are Lowest in History: Trump is still in his first 100 days of office, a honeymoon period for most presidents. But Trump’s approval rating of 40% (Real Clear Politics) are the lowest of any President in history at this stage in their Presidency. Karl Rove in a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that White House staff needs more structure (https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-presidential-honeymoon-from-hell-1491434155) Recent leaks about infighting in the White House suggest that President Trump is unable to assemble a team with a coherent strategy. This weekend was particularly alarming when Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations stated on national TV that the U.S. was committed to removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria while Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, argued that defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) is the Trump priority. Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, explained the two differing statements as essentially the same thing. Trump is committed to developing a national strategy which protects Americans. Spicer has to have the worst job in American, trying to make sense out of chaos. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/10/politics/syria-russia-iran-missile-strikes/
* Dr. Julia Robinson’s blog “My Private Idaho” will be going dark on May 1, 2017 for six months. Dr. Robinson has been asked to write for Pink Politics LLC . P squared was created to provide a social media platform for progressive women living in red states. Primary activities include a weekly blog synthesizing national news with links for people who don’t have time to keep abreast of changing stories or don’t have access to informational resources. Below the Radar is a second weekly blog on topical information that is not headline news. Commentary and inspirational blogs will also be published by various authors on the Pink Politics page along with a podcast. Starting May 1, 2017 look for Pink Politics on facebook and twitter @Pinkpoliticsusa. Pink Politics logo is P2 pink x politics = power
On August 10, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, an official apology to the Japanese people living in America for the creation of Japanese internment camps during World War II (WWII). Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Manzanar,California, one of the relocation camps, now a national historical site. At one time Manzanar, existing on windy plains on the eastern side of Sierra Nevada Mountains, was home to more than 10,000 Japanese families. Experiencing the camp through a movie with survivors telling their stories and participating in an interactive housing display was sobering.
Japanese internment camps were created by President Franklin Roosevelt through Executive Order 9066, signed February 19, 1942. This order led to the loss of property and incarceration of more than 110,000 Japanese, two-thirds American citizens. The relocation camps existed from 1942 to 1945. Those sent to the camps were given several days notice before being evacuated to the camps. Each person was allowed to take only one suitcase. These Japanese, our fellow neighbors, had committed no crimes, had no trials or convictions and yet they had to leave their homes and businesses. These individuals were incarcerated simply because they were Japanese. The majority of those relocated to camps were identifiably Asian from the West coast.Some had sons who fought for the United States and lost their lives while their parents were interned. The Japanese camps were motivated by racial prejudice, war hysteria and failure of political leadership. Executive Order 9066, included Germans and Italians but very few of these groups were ever relocated because their ethnicity is not as visible and because racism in America has long roots.
The internment camps were surrounded by barb wire, had guard towers and armed guards to keep the Japanese separate. The living quarters were drafty barracks. Group showers and latrines made privacy impossible. Despite the desperate conditions, the Japanese in Manzanar remained committed to America. No Japanese in a camp was ever accused of conspiracy.
Manzanar provides an instructive lesson on America’s journey from right to wrong in the area of civil rights. When we feel threatened as a people, we can truly become ugly Americans. The hope of the Japanese who worked to pass the Civil Liberities Act of 1988 was to provide an apology to the Japanese American children who experienced the camps and to try to ensure that public policy mistakes like Executive Order 9066 are never repeated.
President Trump has opened his administration with a flourish of his pen and a flurry of Executive Orders. Manzanar is a vivid reminder that Executive Orders have the ability to dramatically change lives with a pen stroke. The Japanese internment camps were created by a Democratic President. Public policy mistakes are not the providence of one party or the other. Democracy demands transparency and public scrutiny. One person should not be able to take away the civil rights of an entire group of people through administrative fiat.
“A nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society.” Thomas Jefferson
Political appointees serve at the pleasure of the elected official, period. End of story. In my early years in government, I was one of these exotic creatures who can do as they please as long as their elected official is willing to support them and remains satisfied with their work. I even had three possibly four Department heads over me who wished me gone. I served at the pleasure of a Democratic Governor for ten-years in upper management. The Governor respected my work and knew my family (personal connections are essential to success in political jobs). This Governor even nominated me for a national award for my work with troubled youth. I was subsequently selected as the national winner by the National Council of Women of the United States from all the nominees throughout the nation and flown to New York, put up in a hotel on Park Avenue viewing Central Park and featured as the main speaker at their national lunch; a heady experience indeed for a young naïve, highly-educated professional woman from Wyoming. This Governor never promoted me to head of the Department, my dearest desire because I had the administrative credentials but he knew (though I didn’t understand it at the time) I didn’t have the political connections.
I accepted a position as Cabin Secretary of a similar Department in Montana working for a newly elected Republican Governor. I was brought in from another state because there were major complaints of sexual harassment by male Department executives. A thorough housekeeping was in order. The Governor and his personal staff didn’t know me well but respected my administrative acumen. I did manage to reorganize and clean up the mess I inherited but at great personal cost to me. It is hard to work in an environment where those around you are untrustworthy and you can find your name in the paper any morning.
After 4 years, a new Governor was elected. The existing cabinet was all asked to submit our resignations the day after the election, effective at the end of my Governor’s term. We all did so. I subsequently met with the new Governor and he told me that I had done a good job, “but these positions are like hair spray, and there was a shelf life.” I had apparently outlived my shelf-life because I was terminated. Out of a job, I was recruited by head hunters for several other political jobs. There are always places where someone’s friend appointed to a high position has made a huge mess and the politician needs an independent executive to help clean up. However, without the correct political connections, it was clear to my husband and me that taking any of these positions would lead to a life dependent on the vagaries of politics and whims of politicians. The political appointee is not judged by their skills or aptitudes at their job but rather by their ability to please their boss, be on the right side of news stories and not upset the politician’s base.
I have been surprised by the brouhaha around the recent request by President Trump that 46 Obama-era prosecutors resign. While many things in the Trump administration have upset me, this request is actually standard when political parties change power. The political appointee has two choices either carry out the wishes of the politician who selected them to the best of their ability or resign. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’s refusal to implement the Trump Travel Ban didn’t surprise me. I wouldn’t have supported it and neither have the courts. However, what did surprise me was that she didn’t immediately resign. Rather she said she wouldn’t implement it and waited to be fired. She had to know that she would be terminated. She was not appointed by Trump, she didn’t embrace his politics and she didn’t want to help him implement his campaign promises. The high ground in this scenario would have been to resign and clearly state to the President, the press and the American people the problems that she saw with the immigration executive order. Taking such a tack, she could have explained her inability to maintain her integrity if she continued to serve in the role of Acting Attorney General. Understanding and maintaining integrity in political roles is essential to sustaining Democracy. Instead, Yates opened the door for President Trump to attack her and seize the high moral ground with incendiary language such as “betrayed” and “weak on immigration” when the moment was hers to win. Instead, I fear Trump followers ended up feeling the federal bureaucracy was once again out of control.
I am not a Trump fan but when the press makes headlines out of routine politics as if it is some horrendous scandal, the media is contributing the charge of “fake news.” All of us need to focus on the issues that make the Trump administration different and outrageous and not pretend that routine political patronage is something out of the ordinary.
“Every day is a journey and the journey itself is Home”
(Matsuo Basho, Japanese Poet 1600’s)
There are approximately 11 million people living in the United States illegally. The question is not so much how did they get here but why did they get here and why historically have we offered these individuals a home. We have invited many people to come to our country and serve in positions that we are unwilling to take. I heard an Idaho Dairy farmer on public radio before the election say he was voting for Trump. The farmer employs illegal workers, Mexicans, who have been in Idaho working on his farm for many years. When asked about Trump’s plans for deportation, the farmer explained that Trump wasn’t talking about removing his workers; Trump was talking about removing the criminals.
A Wall Street Journal article, March 4th , 2017 entitled “Time Makes Migrants of Us All” argues that in a global economy rapid change means that at some point in time, even if we never travel afar we will feel foreign. This week, I was visiting with several older women who were discussing how difficult it is for them to keep their computers up to date and how stymied, frustrated and panicked they feel when their computer isn’t working. My attorney recently had his office flooded by Idaho’s ongoing winter. Removing the water and remodeling his office has totally disrupted his work flow. My kids laugh at me when I refer to “The Google” or the snappychat (still a foreign entity to me but certainly a prime purchase on the stock market last week).
If we take a longer historical view and accept that we are all on life’s journey together than we are all immigrants forging our way forward towards a new future. We all came to American from somewhere. I read an article this fall about the drama in our DNA. If we really analyze our DNA and look at human development through the ages, human evolution is a scientific soap opera. The drama of human history revolves around climate waves of decimating cold and surging heat. History includes killer romances. Humans and Neanderthals apparently had love affairs in which the human DNA proved toxic to the Neanderthals. Interbreeding proved a disaster for the Neanderthals who never recovered decimating the race in the course of millennium. Humans went on to become stone tool makers, who were also artists (40,000 years ago).
We moved from hunting and gathering to farming in the Fertile Crescent, planting crops and domesticating animals. We learned to digest milk and metabolic fats. We got taller, developed lighter skin and eyes in the colder climates. Leprosy and TB emerged and threatened us as did the plague and flu. We are all carriers of this genetic history. The fact that we are here means that our ancestors were survivors. Among us today 2% of us have DNA that goes all the way back to those Neanderthals who we wiped out 50,000 years ago. Their genes are still with us.
A rudimentary look at my own family tree suggests many opportunities for diversity. My son is a fifth generation Wyomingite. My great grandfather moved to Wyoming territory as a miner. His tiny one-room mining cabin in the Snowy Mountains still isn’t accessible by road even in the summer. Hard to believe that a mountain man living high in the Rockies by himself didn’t do some womanizing at some point in time. He later became a railroader when the Union Pacific came through Wyoming, served on the first territorial legislature, and eventually killed himself. No one ever said why. His wife took to traveling all over the nation by train. My grandmother and grandfather were both highly educated for the time. Grandmother was one of the first classes of women to graduate from the University of Wyoming. My grandfather held an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and served as Wyoming’s first Highway Engineer. On the surface, our Wyoming lineage looks extremely homogenous, Caucasian builders of a new state but just like Thomas Jefferson’s family, I can’t swear there aren’t other branches that are more colorful than we are.
My dad’s family is even more likely to have a dramatic history. He grew up in South Carolina on a plantation that was downsized by the time I was young. The big house remained but the land had been sold off and other houses built around it. My grandmother still had “colored” help (her terminology in the early 1950’s). I don’t think my grandmother ever learned to cook. The history of long-term southern families is thwart with secret interracial mixing. I can’t image that ours is not the same. I have an adopted daughter from China and my sister has an adopted daughter of Mexican/Native American descent. So if the historical roots of our tree are not diverse, the new leaves are bright indeed.
When we as a country talk about sending people home, maybe we should first think about where our home is. I don’t mean our literal home but where did we come from in history. Where would we be now if our ancestors had been sent home or couldn’t develop the genetic structure to continue forward? Even in our life time, are we not all immigrants in the new global high tech world? Have we not had to learn a new languages to dwell among the ever evolving technology.In this life time, have we not journeyed far from the party-line rotary dial telephones and manual typewriters to the new frontier virtual reality?
Is my home Ashtree Way, Boise, Idaho, the United States, the world, the 21st century, or all of the above?
I have an adopted Chinese daughter, Kayla who is now 17. We have been celebrating Chinese New Year sometime during the traditional two week celebration since she was a very small child to honor her heritage. Unlike New Years in the United States the Chinese date moves around from year to year. This year Chinese New Year began on January 27th (the eve of the lunar New Year) and ended with the Lantern Festival Feb. 11, 2017. We chose to celebrate with friends and family on Sunday, February 5th. We always go to a local Chinese restaurant, owned by a Chinese family to celebrate. This year we were greeted with a red menu with Chinese New Year specials in an almost empty dining room because of the Super Bowl. But because of our trip to Australia and the great skiing in McCall, we had to double book activities to get in our annual Chinese dinner (we saw the first half of the Super Bowl and recorded the last half. The two halves were like two different games).
Our dinner this year was both smaller and larger than we planned. Smaller because two of Kayla’s friends who usually join us along with my sister were sick. We had invited our neighbors down the street who have a Chinese daughter and have joined us before. Sadly,their family was smaller this year because the husband/dad, a big man with a big personality to match had died two weeks before. Our party was larger because our neighbors added in a third family with a Chinese daughter who we had not met before. Our final group included three beautiful Chinese girls, all adopted from orphanages as infants, and their families for a total of nine.
I brought along red envelopes with money for the girls. Red envelopes filled with fresh new bills are the traditional gift during the Chinese New Year celebrations. A red envelope bestows happiness, blessings and wishes for another safe and peaceful year. As we enter February, I have high hopes that we will have happiness and peace this year despite national divisions. I would be remiss not to give a “Shout out” to the 9th Circuit Justices for recognizing how important it is to allow people from far away to travel to this country when appropriately screened and carrying approved documents–a judicial blessing as we begin the New Year.
One-fifth of the world’s populations celebrate Chinese New Year. More than 200 million Mainland Chinese travellong distances for these holidays. Billions of red envelopes are exchanged. While our daughter and the other two Chinese girls celebrating with us that night are a minority in Idaho, Chinese make up the largest ethnic group in the world. Having a Chinese daughter and having visited China, has helped me understand that there are simply not enough Americans, no matter how well armed to take on the majority of the world alone. Globalization requires a commitment to understanding other cultures and learning to value the traditions of countries along with our own.
This year, the two week Chinese News Years celebration welcomed in the year of the Rooster. The Chinese zodiac has 12 animals representing different years. The year in which you were born is your zodiac animal. Kayla is a rabbit. Rabbits are frank, straightforward, ambitious, hard-working, but slightly reserved. Rabbits tend to be gentle, quiet, elegant, and alert; quick, skillful, kind, and patient; and particularly responsible. Female rabbits are pretty and pure of heart. These words definitely describe my girl.
My husband and son are dogs. Dogs are loyal and honest, amiable and kind, cautious and prudent. Due to having a strong sense of loyalty and sincerity, dogs will do everything for the person who they think is most important. These adjectives describe both my husband and son well.
My husband is a Fire Dog making him particularly intelligent, hardworking, and sincere. Anyone who knows, my husband knows these adjectives describe him to a “t”. At 70, he still gets up every morning at 6, heads out the door by 7 and returns home around 7 from the hospital where as a palliative care physician he has spent the day treating people who are dying or suffering from severe chronic pain. He doesn’t need to work but his work is his passion and defines who he is.
My son is a Wood Dog, sincere, reliable, considerate, understanding, and patient. My daughter would say these terms are a bunch of hooey when used to describe her brother. But one can always hope as he moves into the world of work he will demonstrate his “ good dog” qualities.
I am a tiger. People who know me would say the animal is a great characterization of me. I am known to be fierce, ambitious (before I retired) and sometimes off-putting with my strong opinions. Tigers are enthusiastic, brave, competitive, unpredictable, and self-confident. They are very charming and well-liked by others (some people who know me might not find me to be sooo charming). But tigers can also be impetuous, irritable, and stubborn. Believe me, my husband would say he has experienced the angry, impetuous tiger more than once in the 27 years we’ve been married.
At our house, we have four dogs, two cats, a rabbit and a tiger, quite an eclectic mix. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Koziseks found blessings and joy in 2016 and I hope those gifts will extend into 2017. As I age, I realize how fragile life is and how we must celebrate together when we can.