On November 1, 2017, Trump tweeted, “CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”
In his Forbes magazine article “Family Ties: Even Donald Trump Is A Product of ‘Chain Migration,’” Stuart Anderson explains the connection:
“In 1885, Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, immigrated from Germany, as a 16-year-old with little English to join his oldest sister. ‘His sister had immigrated to New York a year earlier,’ according to Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President. After gaining success in America, Friedrich returned to Germany and found a bride, Elizabeth Christ, who immigrated to the U.S. and gave birth to Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father.
In 1930, Mary Anne MacLeod immigrated to America from Scotland as an unskilled 18-year-old to live with her married sister in Queens. Six years later, she met Fred Trump, at a party, they married and had children, one of whom was Donald Trump. Columbia University historian Mae M. Ngai notes, “Donald Trump is a product of ‘chain migration.’”
We are blessed with the most adorable Irish twins – ages 4 and 5. They were born one year apart with January birthdays.
A couple of months ago, while visiting them, my step-daughter Jenn asked what kind of sandwiches they wanted for lunch, and my older grandson replied, “a candy sandwich!”
That got me thinking (way too hard). I told my son-in-law, that challah bread would be perfect for candy sandwiches. He agreed, as he had recently seen a Food Network show with stuffed challah French toast.
To be honest, I am a total bread snob. If it’s sliced, I probably won’t buy it. I am into fancy artisan loafs. When I was young and ambitious, I used to bake my own bread.
So, on my grandson’s 4th birthday, I put together the plan. I sent my husband to the best Jewish bakery in Las Vegas: Bagel Cafe. We go there at least monthly for breakfast, and we stop in every few weeks for bagels. Their rugalah and bobkas are also amazing.
We arranged to meet Jenn and the boys at their nearby grocery store, where we picked up marshmallow cream and Oreo cookies. The boys selected candy for their sandwiches: gummy bears, sour gummy worms, watermelon candies, jelly beans, and gum drops. I already had chocolate syrup and Christmas cookie sprinkles, and Jenn had peanut butter.
I sliced the bread and helped the boys make it into circles using cookie cutters. Then I lightly toasted the circles to make spreading a little easier.
My husband grated the Oreo cookies to make cookie “dirt.”
The boys spread the peanut butter, marshmallow cream, and chocolate syrup in various combinations onto the circles.
Next, they decorated their open-faced sandwiches with cookie dirt and candy.
The entire process – aside from shopping – took about 30 minutes, and the boys had a great time!
Late on the night of December 27, while watching a documentary about the band Rush and their final tour – Rush: Time Stand Still – I was inspired to Google the term “Orange Sunshine.” To my surprise, the movie Orange Sunshine was scheduled to have a special screening at the Laguna Art Museum – on my 29th anniversary – January 18. I saw it as a sign. My plan was to surprise my husband Danny. Before making definitive plans, I texted my daughter-in-law to ensure that she did not need us to watch the grand babies on the days we would be gone. After getting the all-clear, I asked my husband if he wanted to go to Laguna for our anniversary, and he readily agreed and even suggested that we book a whale-watching excursion while we were there. Next, I contacted the museum. On their website it said tickets were gone, but there would be a few seats available at the door on the night of the showing. I contacted Irin, the Assistant Curator of Education, and she offered to set aside two tickets for us. Under the circumstances, I felt it would be more appropriate to get an annual family membership for $75. Bingo! We were guaranteed seats!
Booking the Room: Hotels.com and The Tides Inn
This was to be a quick trip: leave Wednesday morning and return Friday late afternoon. (We had to be back for our grandsons’ birthday party on Saturday.) I reserved a room at our usual spot: The Tides Inn. I booked the room through Hotels.com. I started using this site last summer when we were in England and Ireland. The website is super easy to use, and after ten nights, you get awarded a free night, which is a sweet deal. After booking, I called Tides Inn to inquire which room we would be getting, (I have stayed in almost every room on the property). They were able to transfer our booking to room 213, which faces the alley in the back of the property. While there is no view, it is a huge room with two standard beds and you can’t really hear the traffic from Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). This is an older property, just north of Main Beach on the inland side of PCH. There are only 21 rooms, and the decor is old-school California cottage. Only a couple of the rooms have a glimpse of the ocean, some have kitchenettes, and I believe they all have small refrigerators. Being an older property, we have had occasional issues with little things like shower pressure, but management is always super helpful. (After one stay, I left some clothes hanging in the closet, which they mailed to me immediately at no charge!) Overall, it is a pretty chill place to stay, and for Laguna it is quite affordable. Best of all, once we check in, Tides Inn is walking distance to everything we want to see and experience in Laguna, and parking in Laguna can be a bitch.
Additional Planning: Whale-Watching and Dinner at Broadway by Amar Santana
In Orange County, there are two locations to go whale watching: Dana Point and Newport Beach. I found an amazing deal through Davey’s Locker in Newport: $13 a person – our total with taxes and fees came to $31.62. Amar Santana, the owner of Broadway, is a former Top Chefcontestant. We had been to his restaurant twice before, and I was excited to go back.
On the Road
We left Vegas at 9:45 am, Wednesday, January 17. Despite stopping at the Del Taco in Barstow for brunch and a bathroom break, we arrived in Laguna at 2:00 pm = epic time. It helped to leave after the Vegas morning traffic and arrive before the after-work (and after-school) traffic in Orange County.
At the Beach
After checking in, we headed straight to Main Beach with our lawn chairs, umbrella, and books. We watched the waves and dogs playing in the sand until the sunset. We went back to the room to change for dinner and then headed to the restaurant.
Broadway by Amar Santana
The best thing I have ever had at Broadway is the Hamachi Sashimi. It is served with avocado sorbet and is amazingly. For our other appetizer, we got a Roasted Shiitake Veloute, which – although tasty – was too rich for me; my husband had no problem. For our entrees we ordered the Mediterranean Branzino and Potato & Sauerkraut Pierogies with Mushrooms. The Branzino was excellent, and while the pierogies were good, they were a bit too heavy on the mushrooms and a bit too light on the sauerkraut. The finale was a honey-themed dessert called Oh Beehive. There was a beehive that consisted of a lemon goat cheese mousse encased in overly sweet merengue. It was served with honey ice cream, honeycomb, and a tiny bee cookie. While I could not finish the merengue, the rest provided a lovely ending to my meal. Walking back to the hotel, we wandered into a new store: Jasmine of Anatolia. Passing by, I was distracted by the Turkish arts and crafts. Feeling a little overwhelmed (over fed) from dinner, I put off serious shopping for another day, but chatted with the clerk about my trip to Turkey in 2012.
The Big Day
Our whale watching excursion was at 1:00 with a 12:00 check-in, so the plan was to get breakfast and head to Newport – a 30-minute drive up PCH. We usually end up eating in the same restaurants in Laguna, so we decided to try someplace new. After checking online, we decided to try Madison Square & Garden Cafe. It is a short walk from Tides Inn. My husband got a spinach-tomato scramble and I ordered the German Apple Pancake. Both were good, but not life-changing. We then headed to Newport.
The Boat Cruise
After checking in for our whale-watching cruise, we wandered around the Balboa end of the Newport peninsula. We even saw a seal while we were walking on the Balboa pier. After boarding the boat, we struck up a conversation with a guy who had been living in the area for ten years. He mentioned that the whale migration was not due for a couple of weeks. He regularly takes this boat trip to capture photos for his website and stated that it was unlikely we would see any whales; and he was right. He mentioned that he was from Mississippi, and I told him that my mother was born in Laurel, Mississippi. Randomly, he had attended Laurel High School for a year, stating it was an influential time in his life and that he still has Facebook friends in Laurel – small world!
During the just under two-hour cruise, we saw a lot of dolphins, but – as warned – no whales. There is no controlling nature. Nevertheless, it was a lovely experience. The weather – for the entire trip – was amazing with daytime temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. No regrets!
The Remainder of the Afternoon
It was now about 3:00, and we needed to check-in for the movie at 6:30. My husband suggested that we visit my brother’s cemetery in Huntington Beach. Pretty much every time we go to Orange County, we make the drive to the cemetery. After my brother died in 1970, my parents and I went to the cemetery every Sunday, until we moved from Anaheim to El Toro, at which time we only went monthly. It may seem weird, but the Good Shepard Cemetery is a place where I feel especially close to my long-departed family. The routine is that my husband drops me off with my lawn chair and tissues. He goes to Walmart, while I reminisce and have a good cry. That day was no exception. We had planned to go to the Crab Cooker – a Newport Beach institution with reliably good food – but after the cruise, we weren’t yet hungry, so we decided to try a sushi place instead.
242 Cafe Fusion Sushi
We have walked by this place countless times, and it is always busy. We popped in at 4:50, and I asked the waitress if we could get a table around 5:15 – after the sunset. She said we should be safe. After enjoying another amazing sunset, we headed back to the restaurant. Crossing PCH, my husband looked at the vacant theatre across the street, and said, “Too bad we can’t see a movie tonight.” Closed for about two years, Laguna Cinemas was our favorite movie venue. At the restaurant, we asked the waitress for suggestions and ordered four sushi rolls and a large hot sake: Laguna Canyon (outstanding), Lava Flow (also outstanding), LA (very good), and a Ninja (good, but not good enough to order again). Still a bit hungry, we inquired about the sashimi options and ended up with the Integrated P with G – the P stands for purple cabbage and the G stands for ginger; it was an excellent choice, and the perfect ending to our meal. This restaurant only seats 21 people. There are four or five tables and maybe ten seats at the sushi bar. We chatted with another couple – who laughed when I declined a roll with truffle oil – and they advised us to arrive when the restaurant opens at 4:30 = sound advice. Sushi 242 will definitely be on our Laguna restaurant rotation!
The Big Event: Orange Sunshine
Sushi 242 is basically across the street from the Laguna Art Museum. I had told my husband to dress appropriately for a walk after dinner. He was a bit confused when I led him in the opposite direction of the downtown area after dinner. We crossed PCH heading toward the museum. Danny thought we were going to walk around Heisler Park; instead I led him into the museum and told him we would be seeing a movie after all. I asked him if he had any clue as to what was happening – he absolutely did not. I gave my name to Irin, who was managing the receptionist desk, and she said what a pleasure it was to finally meet me, and she wished us a happy anniversary. To be clear, Irin and and I had exchanged numerous emails to work this whole thing out, including a few that morning to confirm our reservation. When we took our seats, I asked Danny if he wanted to know what was going on or if he preferred to wait for the formal introduction. He chose to wait, so I told him to pay attention to the demographics of the audience that was beginning to stream in. The majority of the crowd was in their early 60s, which is not unusual for any type of museum event. What stood out here was the hippyish nature of many members of the audience and the soundtrack that was playing; it was instrumental and sounded like the Grateful Dead. My husband tried to look it up on Shazam, but nothing registered. The guys sitting in front of us were discussing how many people in the room had likely tried LSD; my husband listened with avid curiosity.
The Movie: Orange Sunshine
This documentary recounts the activities of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. This group was responsible for the large-scale distribution of LSD throughout California, the United States, and Europe. So why in the world would I make such a big deal about bringing my husband to see this movie? There are three reasons. One: while my husband was serving in the U.S. Navy in 1970, he dropped a tab of Orange Sunshine at an Arlo Guthrie concert and had one crazy night that included a dash across I-5. This was a highlight from what was otherwise a rough couple of years. Two: I went to high school in El Toro, California, which is just over the canyon from Laguna Beach. During my high school years (1975-1978), I hung out at Laguna nearly every day – especially during the summer. The late 1970s in Southern California was a crazy and liberally-minded time. The generation of the 1960s had worn down the authorities, and people basically did as they pleased. Although the Brotherhood had relocated by that time, the hippie vibe was still alive and well in Laguna. Even today, vestiges remain. Three: when I repainted my office, which is in the the “fame section” of our house, our Feng Shui advisor recommended the color red. I wasn’t quite feeling the red, so I went with a tangerine orange instead, and ever since, I have referred to the space as the Orange Sunshine room.
The film was well-made and very informative. Afterwards, the director and three members of the Brotherhood spoke and took questions from the audience. We bought a DVD of the movie to share with friends and family and headed back to the hotel.
After waking up and packing we headed to the Orange Inn for breakfast. This place has been around since 1931, but I had never eaten there. Growing up, aside from getting a croissant from Scandia Bakery, which sadly closed down about a year ago, or carrot juice from The Stand, which is thankfully still in operation, I never ate in Laguna. I had breakfast at home in the morning before heading out to the beach, and after a day of body surfing, I went home for dinner. At the Orange Inn my husband had a spinach-tomato-goat cheese omelet (yes, there is a pattern here), and I had the Orange Inn Breakfast Burrito with eggs, cheese, avocado, beans, and salsa. This is another place I would definitely go back to. Afterwards, we walked down to the beach and watched some guys surf next to dolphins, and then we walked around the shops, picking up a birthday card for my grandson and some croissants for the road. We also popped back into Jasmine of Anatolia where I bought a mother-of-pearl inlaid box and an evil eye glass disk. I had seen a very similar box at a museum shop in Turkey for the Turkish equivalent of $85. At the time, it was more than I wanted to pay, and I figured I would find one cheaper somewhere else – but I never saw another one like it – until this shop, where I paid $45. I lusted after some Turkish lantern chandeliers – the most impressive was $3,000 – but decided to wait until after we finish redecorating our living room, kitchen, and dining room. I have a feeling I will be back to this store for a more substantial purchase. Heading home, we drove through Laguna Canyon. (It is on the way out of town.) Back in the day, it was called “Dodge City” and was home base for the Brotherhood. In the late 1970s I attended some epic parties there. Today, it is more charming than counter-culture, but I am sure that many old-timers remain. (When we got home and consulted Zillow, we saw that virtually every home sells for $1 million+ – even the homes that are under 1,000 square feet!)
After the surfer wipes out, I zoom to dolphins frolicking in the background.
We were on the road from the canyon at 12:15 pm, and aside from a few gnarly traffic clusters, it was smooth sailing back to Vegas. We made it home at 4:20 pm, with only a brief bathroom break.
Visiting Laguna Beach is like going home to me. There is a peace to this place that I find no where else. We have been there so often over the years, that it is my husband’s and kids’ California home. I know we will be back again soon. After all, I am retired and living my endless bitchen summer!
I have waited my whole life for this. As a little girl growing up in the 1960s, I remember my mother and other neighborhood moms petitioning the PTA to allow girls to wear pants to school. Society justified paying men higher wages and salaries because THEY HAD FAMILIES TO SUPPORT. On TV, I watched protests against the Vietnam War and protests to support the Black Power movement. In elementary school, we participated in activities to celebrate the first Earth Day in 1970. As a teen, I watched the push for the Equal Rights Amendment, and as a young woman, I witnessed its failure to pass. It all made an impression and influenced the woman I grew to become.
The Rise of Patriarchy
Since Neolithic Times, with the advent of farming and the agricultural revolution, the status of women spiraled into decline as the mother goddess was replaced by the warrior god. With a few cultural exceptions, women around the world suffered from personal, professional, and legal repression, along with physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the patriarchy. It is not that all men are bad – most are decent.
The “Me Too” Movement
The past year has been truly transformational. Between the first Woman’s March and the marches and rallies over the past weekend, the “Me Too” movement exploded – forever altering the status quo. Like many other sisters, I shared my personal “me too” experience on Facebook and elaborated upon my opinions in my blog: “Manning Up to the Truth.” It is critical that we maintain the momentum by continuing to speak truth to power and by encouraging women and girls to pursue their dreams and passions. We must demand equality in the workplace and in politics.
The Fall of Patriarchy
Balance is the key. The time has come for women to be equally and equitably represented in business and in government. We must transition to this status immediately. Female sensibilities will transform the nation by bringing compassion and a cooperative vision to the problems that plague our country and the world. We do not strive to supplant male influence, we strive to share influence. We seek fairness and justice. It is time to set petty disputes aside and demonstrate to the male hierarchy the progress that can be realized when all segments of humanity work together for the benefit of all, rather than the benefit of the 1%.
Ultimately, We Will Live or Die Together
Male and Female.
Black, Brown, and White.
Citizen and Immigrant.
Gay and straight.
Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, Humanist, and Everyone Else.
Historically, our leaders have maintained their dominance by keeping us divided: free vs. slave, rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural, red vs. blue, real America vs. the coastal elites. Lest we embrace our shared interests and values, we will perish. Where men have failed to reach across the aisle by embracing common concerns and challenges, I have faith that women can build the bridge between our differing ideologies by grasping hands and pulling each other out of the abyss.
We Are at a Turning Point in Humanity.
The environment is in a tenuous state. Will we be good stewards or reckless exploiters?
Nuclear weapons and hot-headed world leaders threaten global survival. Will we take a step back or push the button to ignite a nuclear holocaust?
Wealth inequality has decimated the middle and working class. Will we restore a balance to economic demographics or allow the elites to relegate the masses to serfdom?
The moment for action is now, and women are the solution. But ladies, do not be deceived. The male power structure will never voluntarily relinquish control. We must fight for our place at the table. We must persist. We must encourage our sisters who have been indoctrinated by fathers and husbands and societal or religious norms that pressure them to remain in submissive and subservient positions.
I remember when my daughter announced that Donald Trump had entered the race for the Republican nominee. I laughed, thinking it was a joke. How could a shady businessman and reality TV host earn the trust of the American public? It seemed absurd. I watched The Apprentice for the first few seasons – it was entertaining enough. However, after witnessing what I perceived as sexist comments directed at Aubrey O’Day (no relation) and Lisa Lampanelli, I quit watching the show. My ambivalence to “The Donald” transformed into disdain, and I could no longer view a TV show that supported misogyny in any form. It was unfathomable to me that such a man could be elected to the most powerful position in the world.
For the 2015-2016 school year, I transferred to Western High School, the largest Title I school (essentially the poorest school) in Nevada. Demographically, the school was roughly 71% Latino, 14% African American, 10% White, and 5% other. The first question upon meeting me that my students wanted to know was whether or not I supported Donald Trump.
Previously, I never revealed my political affiliation to students. In 2012, at my students’ urging, I surveyed my students to determine which primary candidate they thought I supported. Mitt Romney received the most votes. Clearly, I had done a good job at presenting a neutral perspective. Only the most politically astute students ascertained that Barack Obama was my candidate – I was, in fact, an Obama delegate to the county and state conventions in 2008 and 2012.
At Western, when asked point blank if I supported Donald Trump, I could not take a neutral position. As a white woman at an ethnically diverse school, I would have had no credibility if students suspected that I was a Trump supporter, and it was important to me that my students knew that I did not support a man who I believed was not worthy of the job. Many of my students at Western were undocumented, or their parents were. Their fear was real. Throughout the year, I reassured students that there was no way Mr. Trump would gain the nomination, let alone win. We observed the spectacle, we discussed the issues, and we watched in horror as Trump’s campaign gained traction. Nearly every student in every class was outspokenly against Donald Trump.
Only one of my students at Western vocally supported Donald Trump. This student also insisted that President Obama was a Muslim. I calmly stated that he was mistaken and inquired about what factual evidence he possessed to support this claim. From his phone, the student showed me a photo of Obama in front of a large piece of cloth hanging on a wall. The student said that Obama was standing in front of a Muslim prayer rug. I pointed out that the president was at an official function in what appeared to be a foreign country where he had no control over the decor. Plus, the wall hanging was significantly larger than a Muslim prayer rug. I explained how Obama was criticized for attending the church pastored by Jeremiah Wright. It did not matter, there was nothing I could say to shake him of his misguided convictions. He was a smart kid and a good student, who did not impress me as a racist.
At age 15/16, most 10th graders are just becoming politically aware and engaged. It was my job as their Social Studies teacher to nurture their political mindfulness.Thus, current events were always an important feature in my classes. I encouraged students to debate the issues, and whenever either side of a debate was lacking, I would play the devil’s advocate in the argument. About a quarter of my students preferred to stay out of the fray and just listen to the classroom debates and discussions. No one was ever pressured to share or justify their political beliefs, as the classroom should always be a safe place to examine the facts and explore one’s ideas.
The Ugly and Uncomfortable Truth
During the presidential campaign, I was shocked and appalled at the words that came out of candidate Trump’s mouth:
Calling Mexicans criminals and rapists.
Stating that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose support.
Denying that John McCain was a war hero.
While I do not support most of McCain’s policies, his service and sacrifice to our nation was heroic.
McCain further impressed me when a woman at one of his rallies attempted to malign then-candidate Barack Obama by saying he was an Arab, and McCain politely and unequivocally shut her down, stating that he was “a decent family man and citizen.”
Mocking the disabled reporter.
CNN,My brother died from Muscular Dystrophy, (see my blogpost “Christmas Stockings” for a glimpse into my childhood), and this action cut me to the core.
Spouting demeaning comments about the Muslim Gold Star family.
Boasting on the Access Hollywood tape about sexually assaulting women.
Since becoming president, Trump’s actions have been even more disturbing.
Declaring that there were decent people on both sides of the Charlottesville protest.
Retweeting scandalous and misleading videos about Muslims attacking Whites to incite racial tension.
And now, making derogatory comments about Salvadorans, Haitians, and the entire continent of Africa.
Bottom Line: Our Nation Elected a Racist.
While writing this blogpost and listening to CNN – the current background music to my retired life – at 12:20 pm Pacific time on Friday, January 12, a man interviewed in Africa stated of Trump, “We expect more of him. We expect him to be an example.”
Since WWII, the United States has been the leader of the free world. While discussing this fact with my students, I routinely pointed out what a short period of leadership this actually was, noting that while Rome dominated the Mediterranean region for 800 years, I did not expect U.S. hegemony to last nearly that long. What I did not anticipate was the demise of our leadership to come so quickly and for an American president to literally relinquish our position of global leadership. (See my blogpost “Trump’s Short Game” for commentary on the consequences of abandoning our position as global leader.) In my opinion, Trump’s actions are truly treasonous.
A subset of Americans – roughly 35% – support President Trump, including some of my friends and family members. While many Americans are uncomfortable with Trump’s Twitter rants, others relish his trash-talking tendencies. Many Americans are tired of the politically correct speech expectations of recent decades, and they wanted someone like Trump who wasn’t afraid to take on established norms. Having lost trust with the business-as-usual machinations of Washington elites, they wanted someone to shake things up, and Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” For decades, many Americans have advocated running the nation (and school districts) like running a business. And they finally elected a businessman to do the job.
Trump’s success as a businessman is undeniable. He is a master at marketing – especially himself – and he is skilled at hiring great people – especially lawyers – to enact his desires and find loopholes to maximize his profits, such as not paying subcontractors or delivering on promises. He is the quintessential Machiavellian prince, whose bad actions justify any end result that personally benefits himself and his cronies – essentially the 1%.
As an educator, my job was to prepare students for their future by building their academic skills, developing a lifelong love for learning, and nurturing their self-confidence so that they could pursue and achieve their personal and career dreams. As a Social Studies teacher, my job expanded to also prepare students to be functioning citizens of our great democracy by requiring them to analyze how the historical past affects the present and how to critically evaluate how current policies will affect the future. So how do you explain away to students Trump’s bullying tweets? If I as a teacher made similar comments on social media – not even in front of my students – I would be fired, as would most working people. Yet our president is allowed to speak his race-baiting filth and spread dangerous lies on a daily basis.
The majority of my teaching career was spent at two amazing and nationally-ranked magnet high schools. In that situation, I would have relied on simply allowing the facts of Trump-talk to speak for themselves and monitor/facilitate student debate/discussion. However, in a teaching assignment wherein students feel – and indeed are – targeted by the president’s words and actions, taking a neutral stance is complicit support. When my students and their families are maligned and threatened by the president of the United States, it is my duty as an educator, a mentor, an American, and a human being to acknowledge the injustice of this president’s words and actions.
The World Is Watching!
We are in dangerous and uncharted territory. This president needs to be less concerned with how his comments and actions play with his base (the 35%) and be more concerned with how his comments and actions play with our allies and enemies and how they affect our international status. Reputations are hard to repair. President Trump’s supporters in Congress and in the business world will be held accountable, as will be teachers – particularly Social Studies teachers at the high school level – who fail to acknowledge the truth of the matter.
In today’s world, teachers are frequently blamed for the poor state of the nation. At times it feels like all of society’s ills are our fault. Our mission is to prepare students to analyze facts in order to make wise decisions regarding their personal and professional lives. However, there are some historical and current events where taking a neutral position is unreasonable, unethical, and unconscionable. Examples include the atrocities against Native Americans, Slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, and Imperialism. Taking a neutral stance on racist and sexist comments made by the president of the United States is not within my capacity.
To be clear, as an educator I would never use my position to indoctrinate students or unjustly malign a current elected official. However, in a classroom situation, students have questions and concerns. Ignoring Trump’s endless harassment of the press and the judicial system, his destruction of the agencies and organizations that protect the American people and the environment, and his dangerous taunting of Kim Jong-un is simply too much for me. On top of all that is the constant barrage of lies this president has stated or tweeted since assuming office, which The Washington Post identified as 2,000! https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/10/president-trump-has-made-more-than-2000-false-or-misleading-claims-over-355-days/?utm_term=.a2f317caa4a3 Call me old-fashioned, but I like polite society, and I want a president who behaves with the dignity expected in the office of the presidency, not a president who crudely denigrates anyone and everyone who does look like him.
What kind of example are we setting for the next generation?
Whitewashing or normalizing the racist comments and tweets made by our president is beyond my capacity. Furthermore, while teaching my unit on WWII, I would have been obligated to draw the obvious parallels between the Trump and Nazi regimes. (See my blogpost on “America’s Correlation to Nazi Germany” for specifics.) Because of that, I suspect that at some point, an administrative admonishment would have come my way after a student or parent complained, and depending on the relationship I had with my administration, I could have found myself in a tenuous situation, fighting for my job and possibly my pension. My last official day in the classroom was on October 27, 2016, after which I was on medical leave for the remainder of the school year, officially retiring on August 31, 2016. So fortunately, I never had to address a room full of students during the Trump presidency. While I worry for my friends and colleagues who remain in the profession, I am thankful I retired!
Today I heard an interview on my local NPR radio station with Representative John Shimkus R-ILL. Despite not having any nuclear power plants in his largely rural congressional district, Mr. Shimkus is the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Economy. In 1987, the federal government passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act aka the “Screw Nevada” bill. The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2017, chaired by Representative Shimkus, which seeks to restart the Yucca Mountain project, is known locally as the Screw Nevada Two Bill.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as an undergraduate and then a graduate teaching assistant in the History Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, (UNLV), I served as publicity liaison and later the director of the Coalition for Peace and Justice. In addition to organizing protests against the Reagan administration’s policies in Central America and the Apartheid regime in South Africa, we supported the anti-nuclear testing movement and the Yucca Mountain initiative, along with groups such as American Peace Test and Nevada Desert Experience. On March 12, 1988, I was arrested for civil disobedience with Martin Sheen, Carl Sagan, Teri Garr, Casey Kasem, and 1,200 other activists for trespassing at the Nevada Test Site. I later feared this arrest would prevent me from getting my teaching license in 2000, but fortunately it didn’t.
What are the arguments for placing the nation’s nuclear dump site in Nevada?
• The proposed dump site is in middle of the desert on federal land adjacent to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, where more bombs have been detonated than anywhere else in the world.
• Can you say toxic land?
• Many elected leaders and members of the public feel that nuclear waste should be permanently stored in a single, centralized location. This plan is especially popular in areas where nuclear waste is stored on-site at nuclear power plants.
Why does Nevada reject the “honor” of housing the nation’s 77,000 tons of nuclear waste?
NIMBY: Not in my backyard! Yucca Mountain is 100 miles from Las Vegas – the entertainment capital of the world. While the desert may seem to be wasteland to many, it is home to many more.
• Yucca Mountain is geologically unsafe for the below ground storage of any type of waste – nuclear or otherwise.
• According to a University of Indiana report, the water table is 2,000 feet below the surface. But once you dig down to bury the waste, the water table gets substantially closer, so eventual leakage is inevitable. http://www.indiana.edu/~sierra/papers/2004/roose.html
• In addition, aside from Yucca Mountain, which is a volcanic structure, virtually all the mountains in Nevada were formed along fault lines. According to State of Nevada documentation, “since 1976, there have been 621 seismic events of magnitude greater than 2.5 within a 50-mile radius of Yucca Mountain.” http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/yucca/seismo01.htm On June 29, 1992, a 5.6 magnitude quake hit Little Skull Mountain, which is less than eight miles from Yucca Mountain. It is not hard to imagine a situation where another earthquake cracks a cask of nuclear waste, leaking the contents into the groundwater and the environment.
• Construction and operation of the waste dump will be a huge waste of water, which is a very valuable and scarce resource in the desert southwest.
• Finally, the transportation of nuclear waste to Nevada via trucks and trains will result in numerous accidents and will be subject to terrorist activity. As an undergraduate, I was employed in a grant-funded survey conducted by the UNLV Sociology Department, wherein I went into people’s homes to present them with data about nuclear transportation and storage. I then recorded their responses to the facts I presented.
Let’s be clear, nuclear waste is very bad stuff. It is dangerously radioactive for 10,000 – 100,000 years. I will be an anti-nuclear advocate until the day I die. Einstein regretted his role in developing the nuclear bombs that decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nuclear testing has resulted in countess incidents of cancer – especially thyroid cancer and leukemia – among Downwinders: residents of Southern Nevada, Utah, and other neighboring states. Chernobyl demonstrated the danger of nuclear power in 1986, and the Fukushima disaster after the 2011 earthquake in Japan reemphasized the danger. The United States should follow the example of Germany and begin phasing out nuclear power plants immediately. Clearly, the world needs energy for survival, and we now have the technology for clean energy through solar, wind, and water sources. Coal is effectively dead – keep that shit buried and retrain the miners for 21st century jobs rather than the 18th, 19th, and 20th century lifestyle they have been enduring. For the record, Donald Trump does not support the continuation of coal mining for the miner’s sake. Like his advocation for other elements of the fossil fuel industry, in his short-sighted world view, Trump supports fossil fuel usage for the benefit of mine and oil industry owners and shareholders. (See my earlier post: Trump’s Short Game.)
Virtually all elected officials in Nevada oppose Yucca Mountain – most notably former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Back in the day, the vast majority of Nevadans also opposed Yucca Mountain. In many ways, it is an urban vs. rural standoff. Many citizens in Nye County support Yucca Mountain thanks to promises of job creation and financial incentives. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican argument, it is a state vs. state argument and an issue of states’ rights.
The current challenge for the anti-Yucca Mountain movement is the staggering population change in Southern Nevada. In 1990, the population of Clark County was around 750,000; today the population is close to 2.16 million. These new residents are largely ignorant about the issues involved with the transportation and storage of nuclear waste. It is imperative that this new generation becomes educated concerning the gravity of the situation.
In recent months, we have seen the nuclear threat amp up with the dialog between President Trump and his “Little Rocket Man.” Kim Jong-un is dangerous crazy. Donald Trump is dangerous and his sanity – in my opinion – is questionable at best. His mental health has been questioned by prominent psychologists and laymen alike. Is dementia part of the package? Or is it all a calculated ploy to provide an insanity defense in the case that his actions are indeed criminal? Either way, Trump’s comments during and after the election about using nuclear weapons are beyond disturbing.