Posts in Susan’s Musings

Another Day at the Office

January 21st, 2021 Posted by Susan's Musings 26 comments

I think many of us expect to be facing tumultuous times. While I am sure there will be a great deal to say, one message I keep repeating to myself is that I cannot control national or world events. I can pray and do what is within my abilities, but I most effectively have power only over myself, and perhaps influence over those closest to me. I can’t let fears of what I cannot do stop me from doing the things that I can do, such as keeping my own house in order.  

In that spirit, I’d like to add a new phrase to the words that I hope you have already banished from your lexicon. One of my husband’s pet peeves is the phrase, “Giving back to society,” when referencing a charitable donation. Giving is wonderful, but giving back implies that you were taking from society all the years you were working hard to earn money. Unless you are a repentant thief, or perhaps a self-serving, venal politician, while you were making your money you were actually contributing to society, not taking from it.. Why should your words suggest that you were involved in a nefarious and immoral activity?

I would like to recommend another sentence to this aggregation of misleading words:  “No one ever said on their deathbed, that they wished they had spent more time at the office.” I have seen this phrase, usually in regard to parents being on hand for their children’s activities.

I am a huge advocate of carving out large quantities of family time, of building community relationships and of devoting volunteer time to various causes. Nonetheless, the above sentiment is unadulterated bilge-water.

Let’s try hearing what it sounds like in another iteration:  “No one ever said on their deathbed that they wished they had spent more time on the sofa.” If you are a couch potato and lazily sink back into your sofa to watch endless hours of movies, that might be a meaningful sentence. But sitting on your sofa is usually not the goal of the action. I spent many hours on my sofa cuddling babies, reading to toddlers or older children, telephoning elderly relatives, and keeping my finances organized. I clocked many more sofa hours with other necessary and worthwhile activities. I might well wish that I did have more hours to spend on my sofa. 

I spend many of my waking hours in the kitchen. Will I, after 120 years*, say that I wish I had spent more time in the kitchen? Not if the focus of my kitchen-time was simply being in a certain room. But will I wish that I had prepared more nutritious meals for my family even if they took a bit more effort? Will I wish that I had prepared more meals than I did for new mothers or families with a hospitalized child? Will I regret not having shared more hours baking with my children and grandchildren? Possibly. Once again, the heart of the matter isn’t the room but what I was doing in it. 

Will anyone feel bad that they didn’t spend more time at the office? Doesn’t that depend on what he or she did there? Will someone actually rue the hours he spent keeping a company going during a difficult time, thus allowing three or thirty or three hundred employees to continue supporting their families in an honorable manner? Why would anyone regret office time that provided  a product or service that benefited one’s fellow human beings as well as providing food and shelter for his or her own family? I can’t think of any respectable man or woman I know who wishes they lived off charity or taxes forcibly taken from their fellow citizens so that they could diminish their hours at work. If anything, the number of people suffering because they have lost the ability to work this past year, even if they are not struggling financially, should remind us of the centrality of work. The important thing is what is taking place in the office, not the location. 

So, yes, it is entirely possible that some of us might wish we had spent more time doing those things that take place on the sofa, in the kitchen, and most definitely at the location of our economic productivity, even if that location is an office. 

* See Genesis 6:3 and Deuteronomy 34:7. A Jewish blessing often given on birthdays is “until 120 years.” (and be ready to see the connection between the two verses as we go Scrolling through Scripture.)

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A Party Divided

January 14th, 2021 Posted by Susan's Musings 26 comments

We have never been a television family, but we used to have an old rabbit-ears-antenna TV set in a closet that we pulled out on rare and special occasions. That TV came out on September 11, 2001. As it stayed out for quite a few days, I noticed a TV tug of war unfolding. 

On one hand, the news was so overwhelming and the sorrow so great, that running a quiz show, or worse a comedy show, was unthinkable. The question was how long that reticence remained. Five days, five weeks, five months? Closer to five days later, things turned back to “normal,” though a distracting news stream ran across the bottom of the screen. 

What is going on in the United States right now cannot be compared to 2001 in terms of loss of life and suffering. However, history shows that the internal falling apart of a society is often even more dangerous than an attack by an external enemy. In the long run, I think our country is in more danger now than it was then. 

All this is to say that while I personally am focused on my own family, faith, finances, fitness and friendships, I still don’t feel ready to go “back to normal” and talk of those issues in this column. I have strong political views as do most of you. How those translate into practical action is an evolving question. 

In chess (a game I play so amateurishly that I consider it a success when I beat a six-year-old) one strategy is to fork your opponent. The idea is to present them with a lose/lose situation. If they save their rook, they will lose their bishop; to protect their queen, they must forfeit their knight.  There is no step they can take that is completely positive. 

That is the position of the GOP today. The GOP has jumped to impale itself on a fork meaning that it is now a badly splintered party. Those who support President Trump antagonize some conservatives; those who attack the president alienate others. Even if the divide was a 90%—10% split, we are talking about enough disenfranchised voters so that the party will have trouble winning anything more than local elections. In reality, I think the split is closer to 70%-30%. The divide may be more lopsided or less than I think—that is irrelevant in terms of a united front. There is a huge swelling of anger among many conservatives, especially including new, younger ones. While the destructive actions taken by a few last Wednesday do not represent the majority, the anger and frustration they expressed is widely felt and poised to grow, especially as free speech is assaulted. That anger, in turn, will repel the old guard.

On the other hand, perhaps the very split in the Republican Party will prove the beginning of the cure. I think many Americans still are naive about Leftism. If an emboldened Democrat majority moves towards Leftism and overplays its hand, the suffering that attends those kinds of actions will become impossible to ignore. That provides an opening to a meaningful conversation.

I have faith that America is still the exceptional  land dreamed of by our Founders, still populated by  people who see themselves “under God.” Tyranny and totalitarianism have always rightly recognized God as their ultimate enemy.  While the push to eradicate God and His laws is growing, after all these centuries He is still around. Betting against Him may lead to great suffering for many, but not to eventual triumph.

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Nothing to Say

January 7th, 2021 Posted by Susan's Musings 40 comments

There are weeks when an idea catches my attention and my Musing is written on Sunday, then edited and hopefully improved until it is time to publish on Thursday. Many of those Musings tend to write themselves—I’m passionate about something that I want to share with you.

Then there are more stressful weeks when I write and delete my writing, when I try a little of this and a little of that. On Thursday, panic sets in because I don’t like anything I have. Those Thursdays are not very enjoyable. 

So, I was feeling quite relaxed when, last week, a phrase in a book caught my eye and words spilled onto my page, sharing my response to those oft-spoken and oft-written words. Then, Wednesday, January 7, 2021, happened. And while I would still like to share my planned Musing with you, I don’t think that my mind or yours is actually interested in it right now. 

What took place in our nation’s capital yesterday was unprecedented in some ways and a continuation of history in others. I cannot share my thoughts with you because they are in a jumble. I do not know what I think. Not only do I not have clarity, but I don’t know where to turn for basic facts. I can read this new site’s agenda or that newspaper’s slant, this pundit’s ideas and that talking head’s points, but I do not know where the unembellished information is so that I can come to my own conclusions. 

I don’t watch the nightly news and I do not listen to the radio or internet continually through my day. Air time has to be filled and that means that people talk even when they have nothing to say. It doesn’t work for a reporter to suggest that you check back in a few hours when they may have more to report on a situation. Instead, they blather on. 

I don’t want to do the equivalent of that. I know that over breakfast, when I read yet another accolade to Richard Nixon for conceding an election in order not to “trigger a constitutional crisis” I was annoyed. Today that election in 1960 is generally acknowledged as having been fraudulently won by the Kennedy campaign, Had Mr. Nixon pushed back at that point, it is very possible that the country would have been spared both the assassination of President Kennedy as well as Watergate, two events that roiled the nation and set it on a different course. As I see it, whether the future president’s acceptance of the fraud helped or hurt the country is up for debate. 

A few hours after my breakfast, I watched unanticipated events unfold in Washington, DC. Until I know more, I have nothing to say. 

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Our Family Cheating Scandal

December 31st, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 25 comments

Several in our family tackle the same newspaper’s crossword puzzle every day.  We’ve been having a bit of a debate. Is it, or is it not, cheating to look up an answer to a clue? No one is completing the puzzle for a prize, no one signs an honor code before being allowed to fill in any answers and most frequently, each day’s puzzle is long-forgotten before the next day’s newspaper arrives. The puzzle provides a few minutes of intellectual stimulation every morning, not a competitive step towards career advancement. 

Each day’s puzzle gets progressively harder as the week moves on. Each household that subscribes to the same newspaper has one member who enjoys the puzzle. After all, it is often much more relaxing than the news! Mondays and Tuesdays are relatively easy. Wednesday, most of us can manage. On Thursday, we occasionally work jointly. Friday, no one has time for a puzzle —Shabbat is coming! Various family members have different areas of specialty: sports, science, history, current pop-culture, pop-culture pre-1980, etc. Together, we do rather well. Sometimes, though we are all stumped, but we know that the answer is easily accessible via technology. 

That is when our naysayers chime in. While no one objects to our pooling resources (let’s hear it for family togetherness!), one or two of the non-puzzle fans have snidely suggested that looking up an answer is cheating. 

Our most recent discussion on this topic took place as a cheating scandal at West Point came to light. With tests being administered online, dozens of cadets have been cited for cheating on a calculus exam administered this past spring. Their actions are in direct contradiction to the West Point honor code, ”A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” 

The good news, if I can term it that, is that there have been other cheating scandals. There is no need to cry “the sky is falling” while seeing this as unprecedented misconduct. There is even a silver lining. Overwhelmingly, those who cheated were first-year students, a sharp contrast to the last large incident in 1976 that involved upperclassmen. One might hope that the occurrence points to a problem in instilling values, especially in light of the difficulties posed by COVID, that needs to be solved rather than being an example of complete and irrevocable failure. 

Nonetheless, I’m wondering if honesty is less valued today than it used to be. West Point’s honor code even sounds somewhat archaic. Ironically, this is partially due to an increase in transparency. In the glamorous Hollywood of the 1950s, studios falsely presented stars as romantically involved, knowing that they would lose audience if the truth of those stars’ private lives was known. Years ago, ubiquitous social media wasn’t present as it is today to instantly reveal the hypocrisy and mendacity of dishonest politicians. Was Bill Clinton’s disreputable behavior worse than John F. Kennedy’s or for that matter, Warren Gamaliel Harding? Or do we just know more about it? 

I am not downplaying the need for honesty or the negative ramifications when a populace does not believe (often with good reason) those in public office, the media, scientists and others who used to be seen as trustworthy. I’m just trying to figure out what would have happened if my grandfather, who used to fill in the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen, would have had access to Google. Would he have used it? Would you? 

No cheating. Just daily clues into yourself.
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An Outsider’s View of an American Christmas

December 23rd, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 17 comments

One of the most noticeable aspects of being in Israel is how the  Jewish calendar dominates, as well it should. Signs on buses offer good wishes for the holidays in September, bakeries sprout Chanukah delicacies in the winter, and school and government calendars are built around Jewish festival days.

Growing up in America, in my Italian-Catholic and Jewish neighborhood, come December, Christmas was the dominant feeling in the air. Whether it was the music in the supermarkets or on the radio, the brightly lit houses on my street, or the special Christmas cookies in the market (which, happily for us kids, were frequently kosher), it was impossible not to know what the season was.

It may not have been my holiday, but it was lovely.

As I recall it, things started changing in the 1970s, when those shouting about the “energy crisis” attempted to turn lighting up your house into a statement of selfishness rather than celebration. I can think of other factors that, over the next few decades, minimized Christmas Day. The devaluing of religion in general and households headed by single parents with less focus on building family traditions (especially ones that, even in our politically correct world, favor men as ones who are more comfortable with stringing electric wires high above the ground), are two that leap to mind.  While our Founding Fathers, those men who meticulously saw freedom of religion as an imperative, declared Christmas as a Federal holiday, since then,  confusion, lack of education, and outright hostility about the United States’ religious heritage transformed  ‘Merry Christmas’ into ‘Happy Holidays’ and then subsequently into, “I’m safer not saying anything.”

This year, the government response to COVID has struck another blow. Is this scientifically, politically, economically, or culturally driven? Most likely, all of the above are correct. This lays the onus on those of you to whom the day is a sacred, religious observance to ensure that in your homes, even if the gatherings are smaller, the practices of the day shine brightly.

Wishing you a merry Christmas,

Susan

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On Shaky Ground

December 17th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 76 comments

If I told you that I missed writing a Musing last week because I was under the weather, I would be telling the truth. But I wouldn’t be telling you the whole truth. Certainly, some of the fogginess in my mind came from the medication I was taking and was a result of my body working on healing, but in all honesty, much of it was coming from feeling emotionally ungrounded.

Every once in a while, a bigamist or a con-artist or even a mass-murderer is unmasked. He turns out to be the nice guy who everyone liked. His wife, his neighbors, his employer all had no idea that he was a monster. I don’t think that I’m the only one who feels unsteady when such news breaks and is hyped all over the media. Suddenly, I start looking at people I know and…wondering.  I start seeing fault lines in ground that I had always thought of as rock steady.

I feel that way now as I am coming to accept that Joe Biden will be sworn in as our next president. This certainly isn’t the first election where my preferred candidate lost. That is a normal fact of life when one lives in a free country. I didn’t vote for Bill Clinton or for Barack Obama. Yet, I understood their appeal and the limited appeal of their Republican opponents. I felt that an honest and fair election had taken place and even though  I worried about the repercussions, I accepted them.

This election is different. The unrestrained hatred of President Trump, the vitriolic dishonesty of the mainstream press, the suppression of information and the deliberate release of misinformation over the past four years has me looking at the incoming administration and…wondering.

Will I be forced to choose between my own religious, moral, patriotic, and ethical beliefs versus obedience to those running the government? I recently read a piece written by the daughter of two Soviet dissidents living in the now-extinct U.S.S.R. When her mother and father acted in opposition to the oppressive government, they did not know that they would prevail. That is always the pattern in a fight against wrong.

We are in the final day of the holiday of Chanukah where we speak daily of God’s allowing the weak to prevail against the strong, the righteous to triumph over the wicked. When the Maccabees fought, they did not know of their eventual (and sadly, temporary, triumph). Neither did the Union soldiers fighting against the Confederacy during the American Civil War or the Allies fighting against the Nazis in World War II. What is important to remember, is that while the fight ultimately was against evil ideas put into practice, many of the people who ended up siding with those immoral causes were aligned on that side by fear, geography, ignorance, and a host of other reasons, not from an ideological agreement.

I do believe that Leftism is not just wrong, but evil and incompatible with the Constitution.  Identifying when Leftism starts dominating the Democrat Party rather than just being a force within it, will be an important moment in our nation’s history.  It is a moment that I pray we’ll never face, but that prayer is uttered while teetering on shaky ground.

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One Gift Is Worth a Thousand Words

December 3rd, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 18 comments

There is so much about which to write. The great loss sustained by America as Dr. Walter E. Williams died this week, the ongoing election drama, and COVID-19 among much else.

Instead, I am bringing back this piece from 2009. In the final analysis, while the fortunes of countries and individuals wax and wane, often with devastating consequences, some things remain constant.

From an early age, I was aware that a dresser drawer in my grandparents’ apartment housed a box with my name on it. Inside was a tablecloth, hand-embroidered with pictures and, in Hebrew, the words, “In honor of the Sabbath and Holidays.” Just as she had once done for my mother and aunt, my grandmother spent hours stitching this special cloth for me. I don’t know if she did the work when I was an infant, toddler or child. I do know that during those years when I was busy looking at a different drawer, the one which my grandparents stocked with Archie and Superman comic books, my grandmother was envisioning my being grown-up and setting a festive table for my family.

Though she was no longer alive by the time I got married, I brought my grandmother’s priceless wedding present into my marriage. In the years since, I reverently lay out the tablecloth for holidays and for special occasions such as when a newborn is spending his or her first Sabbath in the family. Each time I unfold the tablecloth from its original box, slightly battered from various moves, I am transported back to a time when my grandparents’ love enveloped me. I am a better wife, mother and Jew when the cloth is on the table, and its presence spurs me to act in ways worthy of my grandmother’s devotion.

Many years ago, in the hope of passing that chain of affection down to another generation, I embarked on a quest to hand craft a Sabbath tablecloth for my firstborn daughter, who was lovingly named after my grandmother. A slight glitch developed as our family grew and I realized that I only had limited time to work on the cloth, usually was when I was in the hospital for a day after childbirth or on vacation. Both those times were in short supply.

Of course, I wanted such a treasure for each successive daughter as well. I knew I was in trouble when around the time of my eldest daughter’s twelfth birthday I finished her gift and realized that if I took twelve years to embroider something for my other girls, my youngest would be an octogenarian by the time her gift was completed.

After boxing up the first tablecloth I immediately started on the next one and managed to have it done in time to serve as an engagement gift for my second daughter. But our six daughters are relatively close in age and I was in real trouble. Fortunately, as the children grew and needed less hands-on attention, I had more opportunities to grab time for needlework, even if it was only ten minutes before falling asleep.

Our third daughter requested a wall hanging depicting a panoramic view of Jerusalem rather than a tablecloth. I readily agreed, relieved at the smaller size though the intricacy and complexity of the work was greater. I didn’t make it in time for her engagement or wedding, but it graced the wall of her new home during her first year of marriage. Before I completed that needlework, daughter #4 threw us a curveball and got engaged. I hadn’t even begun to contemplate her gift! Last week, I finally finished her challah cover (the covering for the Sabbath bread), once again smaller than a tablecloth but incredibly detailed and elaborate. She and her husband should be able to open the package before their second wedding anniversary.

As I’m quite sure was true of my grandmother’s efforts, much more than time and effort have gone into these gifts. The hundreds of hours spent on each one, as well as on the bag I needle-pointed for our son’s bar mitzvah to hold the articles he uses in prayer, and on the gifts I have yet to begin for my youngest two girls, are meant as a way for me to encourage and care for my children when I can’t be with them in person. Each piece of handiwork speaks to my conviction that they will be true to their faith and families.  Each stitch carries a prayer, each thread an overflowing pool of love.

Update: I wrote this a few years ago. Since that time, I have completed a tablecloth (as requested) for daughter #5, a challah cover for daughter #6, and a challah cover representing my first attempt at quilting for our #1 daughter-in-law. All made with love.

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The Press Secretary vs. The Homemaker

November 27th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

Will you join me in a  thought experiment? Imagine that I proudly identify as an artist. (I did say that this was a thought experiment and so it does require imagination.) If at the end of my days, my art lives on, carrying my values into the future, I will consider myself as having lived a worthwhile life. I consider my art to be so important that I spend time on it even when I am not paid for my work. Perhaps there will be tangible rewards down the road, but there is no guarantee of that. I create art because it is my passion. I also share my art with my city and nation, convinced as I am that the presence of uplifting art leads to a happier and more prosperous populace.

However, being an artist doesn’t consume me. There are other areas of my personality that vie for my time. I am also trained and employed as a lawyer. I certainly have material benefits from that job. Not only I am well paid, but I have good health benefits and a retirement account. There are also non-material benefits. I get to meet interesting people and stretch my talents and abilities by overcoming difficult challenges. I enjoy the intellectual atmosphere of the office. As with my art, I feel that my work is valuable and leads to a healthier and safer life for those in my community and city. Nonetheless, in the final analysis, I am proudest of being an artist.

There is one more part to our thought experiment. The government applauds my art and wishes to help me be successful in that arena. They value artists and agree that the city is a better place when artists feel supported and validated. To do so, the government will spend tax money to provide me with art assistants, whom I can direct to carry out my artistic vision. In this way, they predict, I will be less torn about leaving my art studio and spending more time in my legal office. In addition, they will require all businesses, including my employer, to give artists paid time off to work on our craft. What a wonderful perk of my job!

These assistants and the time off will be paid by increasing taxes on everyone (including my fellow artists).  Regulating businesses to pay for my time off will, of course, add a cost to business, but they have the option to raise the cost of all goods (including art supplies). The important thing is that I should feel comfortable working for a company that values my art.

Wait?  That doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? If the government deems that art is truly important, then why instigate policies that will raise prices and force artists to work longer hours in other occupations, leaving them less time to create art? Will an art assistant truly be able to fulfill my personal artistic vision? What if I want to do my own art? Wouldn’t it be better to form an environment with lower taxes and less regulation so that I can choose to work less at my non-artistic job? Then it would be my choice to give up the positives of my law career and focus on my art or to spend less time on art but keep my legal career alive.

Replace artist with mother and lawyer with press secretary and you will understand why I was confused by a small part of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ memoir. Overall, I enjoyed the book recounting her years as President Trump’s press secretary. In that role, she was strong, articulate, and classy. Despite being treated despicably by many in the press, she stayed on target, didn’t cower and remained a southern lady.

Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House is a wonderful reminder of many of the successes of the Trump presidency as well as an inside look at the author’s childhood as the daughter of the Governor of Arkansas and her experiences serving in various political campaigns. All in all, it was an enjoyable and illuminating read.

There was only one place, a few sentences in all, that baffled me. That is the subject of my thought experiment. Since I respect the author and our views converge on so many issues, I truly would like to understand her thinking.

More than once, Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks about the conflict between being a loving mother and also having such a high-tension, high profile job—one that often necessitated last-minute changes of plan as well as travel. One chapter in particular, focuses on that dilemma. She speaks of her personal challenge worrying that she was either short-changing her job or short-changing her children. I understand that and, as a United States citizen, I am grateful for how she served our country, recognizing the sacrifices she and her family made. I also understand when she says that her most important title is ‘mother.’ What I don’t understand is her conclusion:

“…I was so proud of the Trump administration for leading the fight to double the child tax credit and champion paid family leave. Four years ago Republicans were hardly talking about paid family leave at all, but thanks to the leadership of Ivanka Trump, also a working mom of three, there was now broad bipartisan support for it. “

I am not a fan of that bipartisan support. I think that government-directed paid family leave is a terrible mistake that will lead to fewer options for women while damaging the economy and family life. As in my example, if we truly value motherhood, then policies such as lower taxation and less regulation, allowing companies to keep costs down, seem to be the way to go. If couples could once again live on one salary, then they can choose for themselves who and how much to devote to a paid career. Mrs. Sanders seems to have a husband who valued her position with the president and, together, they made the decision that she should accept a grueling government position. Together, I presume, they then made the decision that she should step back in order to be more available to their family. Why should the government make that choice for us using economic incentives to promote one vision?

At the same time as I read Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ account, my daughter shared a book published in 1924 with me. The Homemaker, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, is a surprising book for its time. (Totally off-topic: If you have not read her book, Understood Betsy, as a read-aloud with your 8-11-year-olds, do that immediately.) While the book has been described as a “feminist novel,” it is actually a ‘protection of children’ novel—those very little people whose needs are often ignored when the importance of women in the workforce is promoted.

The protagonists of the book are Lester and Eva Knapp, both of whom are miserable and causing great misery to their children. In order to get married to Eva, Lester took the first job available. Years later, he despises his work, and is, not surprisingly, quite bad at it. Life is a burden. Meanwhile, the ambitious and business-minded Eva immerses herself in a hated life of cleaning, cooking, and child-rearing. She does those with technical competence and frighteningly resentful vigor. The three children suffer emotionally as one would expect, and the entire family has physical ailments directly connected to stress and unhappiness.

When an accident confines Lester to bed, Eva goes out to work. The family soon discovers that Lester is a loving homemaker and father while Eva thrives at her job. Everyone is happier and their economic situation is vastly improved. At the end of the book, a crisis unfolds as there is a chance for Lester to recuperate and both adults worry that the expectations of society will force him back to the workforce and her back to the home.

However, the primary theme through the book is society’s neglect of the importance of a loving, dedicated figure in children’s lives, one who delights in their growth and makes a true home for the family. Lester and Eva need to make the best choice for their individual family, but caring for that family means that someone has to be devoting his or her intelligence, time, creativity, and talents to the children.

For a few decades now, we have been telling people with disastrous results that raising children is a boring, unfulfilling, and tedious job. We hold up the mirage that if only it didn’t cost so much, parents could find that magical being who will love their child as much as they do and guide them exactly as they would. Then they could do the rewarding and important work of earning money. The person raising their children will be earning money as well. That is, after all, what really matters! Or is it? Mrs. Sanders didn’t accept her job because of the salary and she didn’t quit her job because she couldn’t afford help. She accepted the press secretary position for well thought out reasons and she left because she made a well thought out decision that her family needed more of her presence.

Insisting that companies have a certain proportion of women in their workforce reduces opportunities for men, taking the choice away from husbands and wives as to which one of them will work out of the home. If my husband can’t get a position, while the company is begging me to come to work so that they can show how “woke” they are, then we are less free to run our own lives. If the government provides paid leave so that I won’t step away from my career, they are declaring that the career is more important than my family. They want me to think that having a family won’t interfere with my work, but work is what they are truly holding up as the highest value. If we look to Europe as a role model, we see that there is a serious danger of below replacement population growth. There is generous family leave time—and there are fewer and fewer children. When family and children are not valued, people do not establish families and have children. America is already seeing the result of attitudes that remove the concept of marriage and children as a blessing and vital part of life. As I see it, family leave will be one more nail in the coffin.

Few women or men get similar professional or business opportunities to those that Ivanka Trump or Sarah Huckabee Sanders did. Many, many women work because of economic need rather than for fulfillment. Given a choice, they would rather have more children and take care of them. Perhaps they would homeschool or volunteer in their children’s schools and in their communities, activities that tended to coincide with healthier neighborhoods. Policies that increase the cost of living or constrict the economic choices of husbands and wives, such as paid family leave or quotas for female workers, diminish these options. I know that forcing women into the workforce is a dream of the Left, presented as allowing women to reach their full potential and contribute to society. What I do not understand is why women who recognize the importance of motherhood are pushing conservatives to jump on the bandwagon. The government never works with a light touch; it tends to function with an increasingly heavy fist that leads to all sorts of unintended consequences.

I may not work in pastels or oil paint, but for years I was privileged to use my creativity and intellect, my passion and talents, in raising my children in partnership with my husband. Other women made different choices. I would like for my daughters to have the same options that we did.

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The Traditional Biden Voter

November 19th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 31 comments

I expend an outsized amount of mental effort trying to understand the half of America that voted for the Biden/Harris team. I realize that those people don’t all fit into any one category, just as all the people who voted for Trump/Pence, can’t be described as having one monolithic mindset.  I understand the young who have been tragically misled to believe that socialism is a viable political option. I get those who make decisions without deep thought but simply listen to popular personalities or follow what those around them do or have done for generations. Even as they see no change or improvement when they re-elect the same types of people whose empty promises have yet to materialize, they continue to vote exactly as they always have. I even recognize the cognitive dissonance of those, often older voters, who cannot move past their decades-long conviction that Republicans are affluent, racist, anti-Semites. Some people, certainly, are one-issue voters who look only at one topic, say abortion, and ignore everything else.

The subgroup that interests me, however, are those people who I would classify as politically involved, intelligent, patriotic, and traditional-leaning.  They are appalled at rioting and looting, believe in free speech and freedom of religion, and proudly fly American flags outside their homes. Yet, they and I came to different conclusions about which of two extremely different paths the country should follow for the next four years.

Or perhaps, we didn’t. Maybe they are putting faith in Joe Biden to lead with the steel of Patton and the wisdom of Solomon. They trust him to stand up and save the Democrat Party from Leftism. They were horrified at President Trump’s manner and speech (based on the President’s admittedly unorthodox method of speaking and a great deal of deceitful reporting), but they were equally dismayed by the anti-Semitic, anti-religious Leftist tilt of the Gang of Four, the viciousness and blatant lying during the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings, and the waste of taxpayer money on the Russian collusion hoax and the  groundless impeachment. Their visceral dislike of President Trump ran up against their memories of a more nuanced time when Ronald Reagan could work with Tip O’Neill or Bill Clinton could enact welfare reform with Newt Gingrich. They truly blame President Trump for the chasm dividing America. This pushed them to believe that a Biden presidency would return things to a state of more fraternal collegiality. After all, there were bad spots in the past like the appalling treatment inflicted on Judge Bork or on Justice-elect Clarence Thomas and things seemed to stabilize for a bit after that.

I do not know if the thoughts I am imagining these voters having are accurate. I do know that, should the election go forward as predicted by the media (not the topic of this writing), I see only two choices. Perhaps, my support for President Trump was not as crucial as I thought it was and these voters are correct that a Biden presidency will prove centrist and calming. Or, as I suspect, a Biden presidency will succumb to Leftist anti-American voices and betray these voters. If I was wrong, I would actually be quite relieved. I would love to see this country thrive and see Leftist violence and hatred stifled.

If, however, my fears are correct, then these individuals will bear the privilege and responsibility of loudly and forcefully speaking up. They will be the ones who will have to let the Democrat Party know that they will never be deceived again. And, I sleep at night only because I do believe that, whatever propelled them to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, they are at heart, good and noble people with a deep love for this country.

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Don’t Be Shocked

November 12th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 31 comments

Whatever the outcome of this election, about half of all Americans will believe that it is not honest and accurate. After I wrote last week’s Musing, Anne commented, “Not liking the results of the election is not credible evidence [of fraud].”

I responded, “You are absolutely correct that not liking the results doesn’t equal fraud. However, just as in any relationship, when you sweep problems under the carpet over many years, you erode trust. There have been “irregularities” for decades that have been ignored. These go back to non-partisan problems, such as the need for identifying every voter but the Democrats yelled “racism” anytime they were brought up and the GOP cowered. Also, there was little political capital to be gained by fixing these problems. This resembles how repairing infrastructure doesn’t win credit for local government while handing out tax money for new programs does. Then, everyone sounds shocked when the bridge collapses or the water is polluted. It’s not a shock–it was ignored when it was easier to fix. […]You can’t allow mistakes/fraud/carelessness for years and then expect people to accept that everything is on the up and up, especially after four years of hatred.”

The integrity of our elections is not the only area where those with an agenda push forward deliberately while most Americans have their eyes elsewhere. It happened with education over the past sixty years, resulting in many highly ignorant and anti-American university graduates. And it is happening in health care now.

You can easily see two simultaneous trends: While veteran doctors are being frustrated, demoralized, and insulted, incoming medical students are being vetted for Leftist leanings. What do I mean?

If you pay close attention, you might notice that doctors have routinely been demoted to being called “health care providers.” This is a not-so-subtle attempt to denigrate the years of study and hard work they put in to achieve their degrees. The old Soviet Union had more doctors and health care facilities per capita than did the United States. They also had worse quality health care with worse results. I don’t think that was unrelated to the fact that being a doctor was not a terribly lucrative or respected position.

Yet, we are moving in that direction by increasingly treating many of our doctors like commodities. Their administrative bosses want to wring the most amount of work out of them with the least amount of respect for their education, instincts, and devotion. Doctor burnout is real and increasing. Here are two articles that are a small sampling of, literally, hundreds that you can find: Doctors Are Fleeing the Medical Field and Here’s Why and Burnout by a Thousand Cuts. When health care deteriorates over the coming years, it should not be a shock.

Meanwhile, the test that aspiring doctors need to take to gain entrance to medical school is changing. Would you prefer to know that your doctor has a firm grasp of biology, chemistry, anatomy, and other hard sciences or that they are able to correctly name all the growing varieties of gender? There are only so many test questions that can be asked.

The focus of medical school is changing as well. This year, the incoming Class of 2024 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine composed their own class oath. It included these words:

“I will champion diversity in both medicine and society, and promote an inclusive environment by respecting the perspectives of others and relentlessly seeking to identify and eliminate my personal biases.

‘I will be an ally to those of low socioeconomic status, the BIPOC community, the LGBTQIA+ community, womxn/women, differently-abled individuals, and other underserved groups in order to dismantle the systemic racism and prejudice that medical professionals and society have perpetuated…

‘I will restore trust between the health care community and the population in which I serve by holding myself and others accountable, and by combating misinformation in order to improve health literacy.”

The doctors I prefer actually treat all patients with respect. I also want my doctors to take pride in belonging to a field that has had many outstanding individuals who have toiled, labored, and sacrificed to serve their fellow human beings. I detest the arrogance that sanctimoniously says, “Those before us were terrible but we noble and wonderful students are different.”

What happens once you are out of medical school, practicing as a nurse or a doctor and you are slated to take part in a procedure that you see as unethical? For decades now, abortion has raised this issue. Now, we must throw in gender-change surgery. What if you think this is a breach of your promise to help heal? What if you think this has less to do with medicine and more to do with Leftist indoctrination? Welcome to being labeled a bigot and possibly losing your job.

No one paying attention should be surprised that Americans are increasingly losing faith in our elections. When people like John Fund, who in 2012 wrote the book, Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, were warning for decades that this was going to happen, it simply wasn’t of urgent concern for most of us. No one should be surprised that so many college students see free speech as a threat or that they support socialism. How many years will it be before we will be shocked, simply shocked, to discover that caring and competent doctors and nurses are increasingly difficult to find?

Now that I’ve grumbled, you might not believe it but I really am a Happy Warrior.
Are you?


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