Friday, September 30, 2016

I Voted For Madame Clinton Today: Everywoman's Wish

Everyvote I will go with thee
and be thy guide,
In thy most need to go
by thy side.
It's September 30, and I've inked in the ovals for a straight Democratic ticket. I've re-folded the paper and placed it in the brown envelope requiring my signature--I've signed the envelope--I've placed that envelope in the mailing envelope, added a Priority Mail stamp and every magical thought I can summon: pagan prayers, vaguely Christian prayers, desperate desires: Please, little vote, make your way to New York and be counted! Who knows what accidents await your travel, what nefarious deeds.  I took my envelope to our local post office, handed it to a sweet old postal worker who looked as though he would, if he were an American citizen, vote for Hillary.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Roy Cohn and Donald Trump

For those of you too young to remember Roy Cohn, understand that he was notorious enough to have become, after his death, a major character in a long-running Broadway play, Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Why? He was the sleaziest, and one of the most powerful, lawyers who ever lived, advising, among others, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. After forging a man's signature on a will--the man was comatose and in a hospital bed at the time--Cohn was finally disbarred. And P.S., Cohn died of AIDS, one reason Kushner included him in a play about the havoc wreaked on American society by this incurable monster of an illness. (Everything you might want to know about Cohn, including his friendly support of Joseph McCarthy, his verve in sending Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair, and his fulfilled wish to die owing millions to the IRS, is right here:

My point is, Roy Cohn was a very big pal of the Republican candidate--among other gangsters, including Mafia bosses and the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New York. Yes.

I have my own Roy Cohn story. Back when Cohn was a child, a woman my family knew well--a Juilliard pianist--got a job teaching the young Roy to play the piano. The money was good, and each week this teacher met with the kid, attempted to teach, and couldn't even get him to sit down at the piano. The entire time she was there, he ignored her, talking to his friends on the phone about legal cases, or reading legal articles. He was, she reported, "the nastiest little boy I've ever met." Finally she went to his mother, hating to relinquish a job that paid so well, but feeling dishonest about keeping it. She explained, "Mrs. Cohn, I've tried to teach your son piano, but he's really not learning anything. I don't feel right taking your money."
Mrs. Cohn begged her to stay: "For that hour that you're here, I know where Roy is," she said. 
Cohn is the man who helped Trump in a dark moment--when Trump was enmeshed in lawsuits, Cohn's advice remained, "Give 'em hell." And Trump's been giving everyone hell ever since.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trumpacalypse, or Why Ivanka Might Just Vote for Hillary.

Anyone who saw Madame Clinton's opponent huffing and puffing and threatening to blow everyone's house down--at one point he actually said, "I'm not being braggadocious!"--knows he's not fit for the presidency. Or business. But we'll stick to the immediate danger. If Ivanka's anything like her Dad, she sizes people up. She has an opportunity. She'll be all alone in that voting booth. There's no need to tell Dad which lever she pulled. I bet she can vote by mail, or maybe that's only folks like me, who live outside the USA. I just got my absentee ballot today, and cannot wait to fill in the oval next to Hillary Clinton's name and send back my ballot. 
No matter where you stand--and I write for those who haven't liked Clinton in the past and might be voting for Trump--if you saw her today speaking about her mother, about children, about struggle, about poverty, you know that she has a heart--that she really cares, that she wants to help people succeed in their lives, that she values kindness and knows how to unite people in a common effort. Her goals are modest, and therefore much more achievable: she wants to make America good again. The idea of making America "great" is a false one--the Republican candidate's definition of "great" is never trotted out without a"better than," "bigger than," "stronger than"--we never hear it without a threat to get rid of some cardboard cutout who in his imagination is undermining some mythic "real" America. He's good at naming those who cannot defend themselves because they need help: refugees, poor people, people of color. 
Ivanka, the man who grabs your body in that revoltingly un-fatherly, inappropriate way is not the man you really want to run our country--is it? You don't have to say a word. Feel free to lie to "dad"--he's never really been a dad, has he? If you actually like, even love him, ask yourself what his reign of terror would do to the world, not just America. When you're alone in that voting booth, focus on the candidate who offers love and who offers a realistic plan--not the "braggadocious" businessman spouting hatred. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ivanka and Implications of Incest

Go through the videos of the Republican candidate hugging his wife, then daughter, onstage, Look at the way he grabs his wife's upper arms just to show her who's boss, the way he slips his hand to Ivanka's lower hip and bottom. None of his gestures show affection or even regard--they show control, possessiveness, desire. Ivanka pulls away, as if embarrassed. 
Go back ten years: Ivanka sitting in a micro-mini next to him on "The View," a talk show, during a 2006 taping. Star Jones, the host, wonders what Trump would think of Ivanka modeling for Playboy. Ivanka smiles as he answers that she has a nice figure and "if she weren't my daughter I'd date her." Joy Behar cracks, "What are you, Woody Allen?" and Trump smirks, "That's good."
It's not good. Allen married a woman who'd been a daughter to him, and molested his other daughter, then seven.
It's not good that a man who could win the U.S. presidency treats his daughter as a tasty piece of meat, his wife as a doll to be kept in a cage. It's not good that he has no heart, to put it mildly. I think of the daughters of dictators--Stalin's daughter is a good place to start in learning that dictators treat their families not much better than their subjects: Stalin sent her Jewish boyfriend to the Gulag.
Remember that, and vote for Madame Clinton.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Stuffed Peppers and Eggplants: a Cancer-Fighting Recipe in Ten Easy Steps

Why is this a cancer-fighting recipe? Because it's not candy or junk food, because it has no alcohol (which gets to your liver when you're doing chemo, and some say it raises estrogen levels), because it has vegetables (those are great, even when you don't have cancer) and because I Say So. I have, like most cancer ladies, read enough (coffee is bad! Oh, maybe not!) to decide on what I think is healthy, within reason. I read enough of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen to know the editor would approve of my version of Stuffed Peppers and Eggplants. When a woman who assured me she was a "certified cancer coach" insisted that milk caused cancer and sent me a link detailing the reasons why, I Googled around enough to want to ask her "Certified by whom? A psychiatrist?" So here's my healthy recipe:

(1) Make some whole-grain rice ("Natur" rice in German) or brown rice in your rice cooker. For a family of five, one cup dry rice, a little salt, two cups of water.

(2) Pre-heat your oven to 190-200º Celsius. (About 350ºF).

(3) While the rice is making, wash about six big peppers and two or three medium-sized eggplants. Slice eggplants in half. With a knife, cut rectangles and scoop them out. Place on a large plastic cutting board; the eggplant slices should be bite-size or smaller, the eggplant nicely hollowed out (think of a longboat made by Robinson Crusoe--doesn't he hollow out a tree to make a canoe?) Salt that eggplant. Set aside.

(4) Pour into a large frying pan, about two tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Wash and dice two zucchini and stir them into the olive oil. Dice an onion--I like the red ones--and add that. Or scallions. A few little tomatoes, diced. Stir and sauté. Set aside.

(5) When the salted eggplant boats and pieces are starting to turn brown  and ooze (about twenty minutes) place them in a colander and rinse them thoroughly with cool water. Place the boats upside down on paper towels, add the little pieces of eggplants to the frying pan and sauté them a bit more. 

(6) Slice the tops off the peppers. Pull out or cut out the section with the seeds and discard (we give these to our guinea pigs, who squeal their appreciation. Nothing's wasted at our house.)

(7) In a large bowl put everything from the frying pan, two well-beaten eggs, and the rice. Mix thoroughly. Grate a large chunk of Parmesan cheese (6-8 oz) into this mixture and stir well. Set aside.

(8) Add a little more olive oil to the pan. Sauté the eggplant halves, peppers, tops of peppers. Turn frequently--do all sides: the peppers shouldn't burn, but should look cooked. Same with eggplant. Turn heat off. Have large pan ready. Oil it slightly--olive oil.

(9) Take each pepper or eggplant half--carefully--they'll be hot, and fill it with the stuffing. Settle in baking dish. You may have to lean the stuffed peppers against other stuffed peppers to make them stand up. Place the pepper tops on the stuffed peppers--doesn't have to be the one from that pepper.

(10) Bake for about 40 minutes (sometimes you'll need longer). Enjoy!

If you don't have cancer, drink a glass of red wine with this. If you do, try red grape juice, because in my opinion the person who invented non-alcoholic wine should be forced to drink it every day. You, sweetie, do not have to torture yourself. Enjoy your food!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mein Furor Versus Cool Clinton

Okay, I didn't coin that phrase--Daily Kos did--and it fits the Republican candidate like a glove. His rages and sneers are all part of his shamelessness, and shamelessness seems to be a quality that people envy and wish to emulate. How lovely to be free of shame. Guilt, too. Free from those feelings that torture you, but keep our culture in line. From John Winthrop (the Puritan preacher who warned his flock that their new colonies would be a "city upon a hill" watched by the entire world--so be good!) to Freud, guilt and shame have played big hands in American life. We go for ideals and our punishments are medieval compared to those in enlightened Europe. 
And that, I guess, is why so many Americans love a guy who radiates shamelessness. He lies, he cheats, he's caught at both constantly, but he never shows a nanosecond of shame, because he doesn't feel it. He's a player and he loves any move of the game, and Jimmy Fallon got to rumple his hair, but did Mein Furor show embarrassment? No, and you'll never get him to do so. If he were caught red handed by Wikileaks, his fraudulent taxes all over the news, he'd be screaming that somebody faked it. He'd be blaming everything on Madame Clinton. He has no conscience. That's why he is envied.
Cool Clinton has nothing but conscience. She makes us feel ours. Ethical to the bone, she fights, righteous indignation sticking out all over her. She's funny, too--loved that "I get allergic" line, referring to Mein Furor. But CNN jumps on her for lying about her health, while no authority bothers to jail a man who's been cheating on his taxes since his first forays into business, if not before. Tax records! Health records! Birth certificates! Wham!  A German commentator noted that Germans would never ask for Frau Merkel's health records. Those are her business--entirely private, and privacy is big here. But Americans, he pointed out, are voting for tribes, not parties, and the healthiest body wins. We're back to the stone ages already, the pre-democracy ages. AND I SAY UNTO YOU: Don't let Mein Furor become Mein Führer. Vote for Clinton!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hillary's Pneumonia and Why You Should Vote For Her

I had pneumonia for the usual reason women get it--overwork. I had three young children who had to be picked up every day from kindergarten and elementary school. I worked and graded exams and did laundry and made meals. I had a persistent cough. One afternoon, I'd dragged myself over to the kindergarten and was on the way home with my two youngest kids, who had wanted to stop in the playground along the way. I stood, swaying on my feet, watching my daughter on the swing. I didn't want to sit down, because I thought I wouldn't have the energy to get up. 
"Wow, that's some cough," said a voice behind me, one of the dads. "Do you smoke a lot?"
I had coughed? "No, just asthma," I said. I had what I thought was asthma-with-a-bit-of-bronchitis. A doctor had prescribed rest and antibiotics. A male doctor, of course. I laughed at the first remedy, but took the second religiously. So I had to get better, right? All I wanted to do was lie down and sleep.
I kept going until finally, like Madame Clinton, I landed in the hospital for ten days. She's a lot stronger than I am--almost ten years to the day older--and wild horses won't keep that woman in the hospital. She is too busy fighting for you and me and for democracy itself. She's fighting for basic decency. 
Why do I keep reading about people who "just don't trust" Hillary? Why the continued crap about the emails, the tedious wikileak about the earpiece? Why am I hearing, "Oh, I just won't vote--he's a monster and she's too much of a socialist/liar/inconsistent/younameit?"
I never thought I'd say this: because she's a woman. Strong women are, even by The New York Times, denigrated--"the bitch we need" is how Clinton was described. Shame on you, New York Times, for confusing strong and forceful with bitchy. 
On CNN's State of the Race, Kate Bolduan led the charge about Why Hillary Should Have Been More Transparent. Aw, come on!! If Hillary were a guy, would people have freaked? What's really going on, why people are angry, especially the guys, is because Mommies Are Not Supposed to Get Sick! How well I know. When I was sick in the hospital with pneumonia, my husband brought my then really little ones to visit. My six-year-old turned his head away, wriggling with rage. He was in no mood for mommy (what the heck was she doing, leaving him for these doctors?) to read him a book. My four-year-old daughter gloomily wondered about the "doctor you live with now." 
Angela Merkel is Germany's Mutti and, Madame Clinton, take it as a compliment that American voters see you as Mom, too. At the moment, bad mommy, for getting sick. Let's work that into a great American theme: The Underdog Returns And Triumphs. You are Hillary, let's hear you roar until Trumpy turns tail and runs! You go, girl! 
Remember that Donald Trump is worse than Frank Underwood. Donald Trump is real. He doesn't give a damn about anyone or anything but Donald Trump--maybe not even Donald Trump. It's easy to imagine him destroying everything and everyone within sight, then heaving an orgasmic last breath as he jumps off a cliff. Hillary Clinton loves life. Despite pneumonia, acquired while on an heroic mission to raise funds, she keeps going like the determined, courageous, strong woman she is, and I hope Americans will recognize the depth of her commitment, the elemental force of her experience, and vote for her--overwhelmingly. She will recover from pneumonia, but America would never recover from Donald Trump.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

8 Tips for Capturing Escaped Guinea Pigs

(1) Take all of their little wooden houses and place them near the bushes under which you suspect your little escape artists have sequestered themselves. 
(2) Place a carrot, an apple, any favorite food, just inside the door of each house.
(3) Don't hope too hard, unless it's raining. If it is, they'll run straight for a house.
(4) Today is unrelentingly sunny. Lurking by the woodpile, we watched our faster piggie dash out from behind some brambles, grab the carrot, and race back into her hiding place. Several times.
(5) Put your laptop on top of one of their houses. Play some "Happy Guinea Pig" sounds on You-Tube. Your pigs will at least peek out so you'll know they're alive.
(6) Crackle the plastic bag of favorite dry food (this causes one pig to peek out from the shrubbery, revealing her sidekick (Still alive! Not consumed by a cat!)
(7) Call the wonderful, eccentric neighbor, your local Boo Radley. He appears instantly, and in a businesslike fashion climbs down behind the thorny bushes and grabs a guinea pig, which he hands you. Her friend is a little faster, but between Boo reaching for her and you blocking her way, he manages to capture her, too.
(8) Remember: it takes a village to capture a guinea pig!