Over the past 18 months, Private Idaho has published 94 posts with 4,675 views by 3,151 distinct visitors. The visitors have come from 27 countries. I am on vacation from regular blogging until November. I hope you have a marvelous summer and fall.
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.
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)
Trump Properties Serve as Second White House: President Trump has spent nine of his 11 weekends as president visiting at least one of his properties. While a number of these weekends have been recreational, the world was treated to Trump Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan responding to news of a ballistic missile test by North Korea. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/05/us/politics/tracking-trumps-visits-to-his-branded-properties.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news This week Trump was at Mar-a-lago when he announced firing 50 cruise missiles on Syria. Problems with using Trump properties for White House business include increased security costs, conflict of interest (the properties and Trump brand get continuous advertising at no cost), and informal unscheduled meetings with members to the club. Media and general public do not have access to who is in attendance as required by public meeting laws.
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/
New Spin on Oldest Love Story of All Time, Adam and Eve: Tired of women being the “bad guys” in Genesis, try Bruce Feiler’s The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us (Penguin Press, 320 pp.), Feiler writes that rather than Eve being a secondary creation, Adam and Eve were made to be equal partners. They represent a profound example of true love and companionship. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2017/03/20/the-first-love-story-adam-eve-and-us-bruce-feiler-book-review/99183416/
* 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
My daughter is a high school junior. We have spent recent school breaks and long weekends touring colleges. I started this project with the concept that we are fortunate to have resources. We have saved enough in a 529 plan for Kayla to go to the University of Idaho and only be responsible for incidentals. Kayla is Asian. The last couple of years she has begun feeling the pressure of being a rare exotic flower in a sea of all white. She will frequently mention to me that we are once again in a room of Caucasians. Her father and I decided we needed to kick up our savings a notch to allow Kayla to attend an out-of-state school with a more diverse student population. My husband is 70 and still working and I am 66 and retired. Increasing the college fund actually means reducing our retirement savings. I realize these are the same trade-offs most families make but they probably have fewer resources and are at least 10 to 20 years younger.
Idaho is part of the Western Undergraduate Education program (WUE) which means that at participating schools, you do not pay full out-of-state tuition rather you pay instate times .5 This assumes the student has adequate test scores and grade point average. Kayla meets all the achievement criteria. Kayla has toured Montana schools twice. They don’t offer better diversity than Idaho. Montana is, however, slightly more liberal. Montana schools’ tuition aligns with Idaho’s. We have also toured Nevada-Reno, more diverse and a brand new campus purchased by large donors, demonstrating money makes such a difference. UNR is in a price range with Idaho slightly more diverse but not as academically well-rated.
Kayla has always wanted to go to Colorado State. We attended an immersion program over President’s weekend and she was delighted. I was a little less delighted because the in-state tuition and room and board is topping out at $100,000. The WUE tuition is $125,000, significantly above our slight bump-up in tuition. As the financial aid officer was reviewing costs, one mom started crying in the back. She asked, “What if my daughter can’t meet achievement scores?” The financial aid officer suggested loans. I was satisfied we could probably make this work by increasing our savings the next 2 years and continuing to pay for Kayla’s college costs the next four years (mind you my husband will be 76 and I’ll be 72 when we get Kayla through school). I said to the financial officer as I was walking out door, “If we come up with $125,000, this will fund 4 years at CSU for my daughter?” He says, “Probably not, with inflation the cost is more likely to be $140,000.” That sum of money is about the same amount as we sold a 3 bedroom rental house in Meridian last year. It was a number that made my heart sink. We are too well off to qualify for any type of financial assistance. I don’t expect the public to be paying for my daughter to go to a state school. But I do think that public colleges are too expensive. As my husband says, our tours have made the University of Idaho look like a great value. CSU rates slightly better than U of I on academic criteria but not substantially better for almost twice the cost.
We are now taking a spring break to tour California schools. I call it our fantasy land tour. I have three girls with me including my daughter. One has a trust fund and can afford to go to any school she can get into. One is having trouble funding her meals on the trip though she has excellent grades. I am paying for everything but food. We are staying in hotels where breakfast is provided so she only needs to cover lunch and dinner. She asked to come on the trip because she has never been to California. I am sure she will probably qualify for financial aid but not enough for the high cost of California schools. Then there is my daughter. We think she should be somewhere with high academic standards and where diverse populations are welcoming and abundant (sounds like California to me). But when we looked with my son six years ago, there was a gap of $60,000 annually between the scholarship he received and the cost of the school where he wanted to go. We said we wouldn’t pay it and he ended up at Idaho. He has graduated now and we are hopeful a college education will help him land in the middle class as it did my husband and I. But I don’t know that for sure. He has yet to land a job on the west coast where he wants to go for the same reason my daughter wants to go out of state, more diversity and more liberal thinking.
What I do know is if upper class, highly educated professionals find the cost of education daunting it must be terrifying for most families. I think we need a well-educated workforce. To achieve that, college needs to be accessible to most people. That means public universities need to have a reasonable tuition for the middle class. I don’t agree with Bernie Sanders that college should be free for everyone. But I do understand why his message resonated with college students trying to make their way through school while studying, working, and carrying large loans. I think public colleges need to be affordable. If that means, my husband and I pay more taxes to make that happen so be it. We need a workforce of the future that is well-trained, creative, and not dragged down by debt.
“The Intuitive Mind Is a Sacred Gift and the Rational Mind Is a Faithful Servant” Einstein
Intuition is the art of knowing without rational facts. Implied in the definition is that what you know is correct despite the facts you have before you. For example, you meet someone and you immediately know that they are a good person you can trust. Later over the years, you find out this assessment is true based on repeated interactions with this individual. Recent research, published in Live Science, May 2016 found that people do use intuition to make faster, more confident, and more accurate decisions. In other words that feeling in your “gut” is worth listening to. Intuition is a perception that happens in the present, is very fast but this momentary perception can be swept away by cognitive analysis. Unfortunately, in our society based on technology and rational thought we often over-think our initial response
Women are attributed with having stronger intuition than men. Research has clearly shown that women are better at reading facial expressions than are men. Thus, women are more likely to pick up on the subtle emotional messages. Psychology Today suggests this skill is a direct outgrowth of women having lower social power than men. Women have had more opportunity to study their male supervisor’s response and learn to adapt in order to either stay in their positions or move ahead. Women’s special intuitive skills may in fact be a direct outgrowth of surviving in environments with “emotionally clueless men” (Riggio, 2011)
Einstein suggested that intuition is a gift. Some people have more intuitive talent than the rest of us. We call them clairvoyant, psychic, or prophetic. Many times we are fascinated by these individuals’ ability to see more than one can know based on natural vision or rational reasoning. At times in throughout history, this ability has frightened us. We have labeled women with special sight witches and burned them at the stake. We have looked askance at fortunetellers in carnivals believing their skill was probably trickery.
While our culture focuses on technical rational thinking, other cultures, such as India, embrace sensory experiences. Neither approach is right or wrong but by cultivating our intuitive side; we open up our creative mind. Creativity requires being willing to move forward embracing uncertainty and doubt. Some of the greatest discoveries in science come from scientists being willing to follow their intuition about how to solve a problem.
An individual’s intuitive skill can be improved. I took a class on intuition this week. The emphasis in the class was on opening yourself to listening to your intuitive sense. This personal awareness requires the ability to be still, breath in and out in a settled position, and listen to the air. The prophets in the Bible heard messages from God as whispers and in dreams. We can’t become attuned to our inner-most thoughts if we are constantly in front of screens, have ear plugs on and spend our lives multi-tasking.
Take the time this week to take advantage of your sacred gift of inner knowing. Spend some time by yourself but with yourself.
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.