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It’s December 31, 2017, time to kiss this miserable year to the curb. It’s been almost a year since I posted here, and there is a reason for that. I just couldn’t bring myself to comment on every low point in 2017. There were so many I couldn’t keep up.  The country, and the world, got a massive shock on Nov. 8, 2016, when an orange man who admitted to molesting women because he was rich and could do anything – a failed reality show host – a narcissistic racist self- described “Christian” – was, against all odds, elected to be the 4th president of the United States of America. He didn’t exactly win – Hillary Clinton beat him by 3 million votes – but somehow the electoral college went his way.

Most of us Americans knew he would be inept, but few of us realized he and his minions and the Republican held Congress,  would be evil.  Everything he has done is to try to destroy everything our last real president, President Obama, had accomplished, and to give great tax breaks and perks to the rich, taking the money from the poor. Paul Ryan gleefully shouts that he intends to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, something 45 had promised not to do. Plans are already being implemented to do so.  25 million people are losing their healthcare, and the fat cats in the government are applauding themselves for that.

45 has alienated most, if not all, of our allies with his ill-informed “policies.” The US is the only country not to sign the climate change agreement  even North Korea and Syria signed that! He’s been seen shoving a foreign official aside to get to the front of a photo shoot. He’s insulted Germany, England, France … and he’s praised Russia and its dictator/murderer/despot Vladimir Putin to the high heavens. Rumors had already begun in 2016 that Russians were working to disrupt or electoral system, and now we know Trump and his aides were up to their necks in Russian collusion. He fired the head of the FBI to stop the investigation into Russian interference in the election, but that resulted in a special investigator, the well-respected and imminently qualified Robert Mueller, being appointed to continue the investigation. Several of 45’s cohorts, starting with his short-lived head of security Michael Flynn, have been indicted and/or questioned intensely in closed and open hearings. They  include his son Junior and his jack-of-all-trades master of none son-in-law Jarad Kushner.

This was the year of the #MeToo movement. Many women opened up about being harassed and molested by famous men. Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, and others in the world of entertainment and politics were accused by multiple women, and paid the price. A backlash movement started when Al Franken, a principled senator who’s spoken out for women’s rights and for integrity in the government, was accused of “improper behavior” by a woman who was schooled by her buddy Sean Hannity in what to say to do the most damage. His Democratic colleagues forced him to step down to show the Republicans that this party takes action – an attempt to make the Reps do the same? Not a chance that would work. 45 campaigned for a Republican in Alabama who’s known to have preyed on teenagers when he was in his 30’s. In a sign the tide might be turning, he lost to a Democrat – the first one in decades to win in that state. The worst offender of the bunch, Donald Trump, sails along unchallenged. “All those women are liars! I should sue them!”

A riot in Charlottesville over removing Civil War statues was caused by Neo-Nazis and others of their ilk. One of them plowed a car into the peaceful protestors, killing one woman and wounding many others. Did 45 call them out? Yeah he did – he did not condemn them, rather said “both sides are responsible, and there were good people on both sides.”  Do you see why I’ve had trouble posting this year?

Oh yeah, and there’s that saber rattling between him and the despot in North Korea – name calling “Little Rocket Man” and such. Even the Russians and Chinese are calling for cooler heads to prevail, but nuclear war is a very real threat. And out of nowhere 45 declared that the US now recognizes Jerusalem to be the true capital of Israel – disregarding a decision by the rest of the civilized world in 1949 to not do that. Unrest and threats in the Middle East  against the US have ramped up even higher than they were.

Positive signs: he now has a positive rating of less than 40% – as low as 32% in many polls. People who voted for him as the lesser of two evils are seeing the light and admitting they were wrong. Only his basest of bases, the evangelical Christians and white power folks still adore him, but they are loud. Congress apparently hears them over the rest of their constituents, shredding the church/state division.

But – Democrats are finally getting together to defeat this evil regime. Democrats won races in Virginia and other states that went for 45 in the presidential election. Many groups have arisen to bring sanity back to our country – Indivisibles, Nasty Women, and more. Women have marched to resist his attempts to take us back to the 1950’s. There will be marches in DC and several big cities on Jan. 20 in support of impeachment. Mueller is getting closer to nailing the bastard. 45 knows that, and has been desperately throwing out diversions right and left, but the truth keeps marching on.

That’s all I can handle for now. I am hoping there will be a lot of positive news in the coming year. We can do it, America! Make America sane again! And Happy New Year to all.

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Jan. 28, 2017. Donald Trump has been president for one week, and already he has thrown our country, and the world, into chaos. His inaugural speech was full of doom and gloom and hate. His speech at the Memorial Wall of the CIA was all about how his inaugural crowd was the largest ever in the whole world (it wasn’t, not even close) He mocked the million + Women’s March attendees, which drew a much larger crowd than his puny inauguration. He churned out executive orders in a frenzy, posturing and posing for the cameras. He said Mexico would pay for that stupid wall. The Mexican president stood up to him and said no way Jose, and he cancelled the meeting he and Trump had planned for next week. Trump said it was a “mutual”decision, and whined that Mexico is being mean to him.

He continues to govern by tweets, on an unsecured phone, and his staffers use unsecured phones too. Remember how he hounded Hillary about using a private email server? Every thing he accused her of, he is doing, and getting away with it. He scolded her for her ties to Goldman-Sachs, but several of his cabinet members come from G-S. His press puppet, Sean Spicer, was forced to go out on Saturday to double-down on Trump’s crowd size. He was angry and hostile and did not allow any questions. Trump, smarting about losing the popular vote by almost 3 million, claimed that he heard that 3 million or more people voted illegally. When Spicer came out for his first official press briefing, he was asked  if he believed Trump’s claim. He said “yes, that’s what Trump believes.

His alt-right toadie Steve Bannon  told the press to shut up and listen. CNN has been banned from pressers because they made him mad by speaking the truth. He’s destroying Obamacare, while millions of Americans, even those who voted for him, are terrified because there is no replacement plan.

He blasted our intelligence communities, and took Putin’s side against them.  I can hardly believe this has already happened, but wait, there’s more. He signed a ban on people from some Muslim countries – but not the ones where the terrorists who harmed us actually came from. Those are the countries he has business ties with. And most of the Republican congress people are letting him get away with all this crap.

 

All this in one damn week! I am writing this so that I will not forget what is happening to our once-mighty country.

 

 

 

 

Now we have come to the end of a terrible year for our country. In the fall of 2015, Donald Trump, the orange-faced blustering billionaire/reality tv star, said he might run for president. We all thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. In the spring of 2016, there were 17 candidates for the Republican slot. Most were bad, but the worst was racist, sexist, and totally unqualified Trump. He kept himself in the spotlight, badmouthing his fellow candidates – Low Energy Jeb, Lying Ted Cruz, Little Mario Rubio … His approval rating just kept going higher. He even said, if he stood in the  middle of Times Square and shot somebody, he’d be even more popular. Damned if he wasn’t right! He asserted that Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in the murder of JFK, and insulted Ted’s wife.The other candidates dropped off one by one. Each time he said something even more outrageous, his supporters increased. He became very popular with White supremacists, KKK members, bigots and racists, anti-immigration, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Muslims, and he did not disavow their support. He hammered the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, with her emails, even though nothing was found to be illegal. He tagged her with the nickname “Lying Hillary.” He countered every factual point she made with ridiculous lies. At one point, it seemed he’d gone too far, when a secret tape he made a few years ago with Billy Bush was made public. He made crude, offensive, even criminal comments about women. Surely that was too much? After a few tense days, he was absolved – “it’s just locker room talk!” There were three presidental debates. Trump blathered, lied, stalked Hillary on stage. Hillary was prepared, informed, and factual.  Toward the end, the polls showed Hillary ahead. She was predicted to win. Even Donald didn’t expect to win, he just wanted to continue to harrass her after she won.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, like the FBI director, not a fan of Ms. Clinton, making a statement that he’d found new emails that needed to be examined. A few days before the election, he said never mind, it was all innocent, but the damage was done. Rumors of hacking the DNC and her campaign manager by the Russian government swirled for months, but was not confirmed until after the election. When Trump did win in the electoral college, he claimed he’d beaten her by a landslide. He didn’t – she had almost 3 million more popular votes. We held out hope for something, anything, to happen so that he would not become the president, to no avail. He seemed to think he was already the president, sending casual tweets to world leaders, including Taiwan, with whom we have no diplomatic relations with. He threw away years of the One China policy, thrilling Taiwan, which gave him permission to built hotels there, and pissing off China bigly (one of his favorite words) He praised his buddy Putin, our biggest enemy, and continues to do so.

There’s so much more. It’s too painful to go on. More than half of Americans are in despair. Illegal and legal immigrants, blacks, LBGTQs all fear for what is to come. Still, many of us have vowed to fight him and his Congress to keep them from destroying our country. Resistance groups have formed. I joined a secret Facebook group of writers who plan to use our talents to counter his world of hate. I am glad to see the end of 2016, but I am apprehensive about what the future holds.

 

It’s been a long, exhausting two years for Americans. The months leading up to our presidential election were nasty, divisive, and sometime incredible. Donald Trump – yes, THAT Donald Trump, the orange-haired, hate-filled reality star. At first it seemed like a goof. There were 17 other Republican candidates. One by one, they fell, with taunts like “Loser””Low energy” and worse from Trump. And he begin to win. No, he’ll never get the nomination. Right?  Wrong. His scowling rubbery face was everywhere, insulting and demeaning everyone who’s not white, American-born, and Republican. He got more popular. Groups of people who’d been largely ignored crawled out of the swamp, proudly chanting”Trump’s “Lock up her up,” his favorite slam on Hillary Clinton.  He escalated, telling Russia to hack her emails, calling her crooked, corrupt, a liar. His crowds began shouting “Hank her, ” wore shirts proudly proclaiming “Hillary for prison.” He got louder and meaner, his people started attacking protestors and calling Hillary obscene things. He got more popular. He said he could stand in the middle of Times Square and shoot somebody and his people would still love him. He SAID that! A man who wanted to be president of the United States. Right up to the end, on election day, Nov. 8, those of us who thought he was not fit for that office had hope that she would win. Even Trump didn’t really expect to win. Yet somehow, despite his ugly attacks on just about everybody, against all odds, HE WON!  Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, there was a whole new world on the horizon. Hispanics feared deportation, Muslims wondered if they should leave the country, women who support a woman’s right to control her own body, LGBT folks, including my 20 year old granddaughter, feared they would lose their hard fought for rights … Kids in schools wore Trump tee-shirts, drew racial slurs and Nazi symbols on bathroom walls, Muslims and gays were attack at a much higher rate, blacks were called the n word even more feverishly. And this is only Day Three of Trump’s America. Tea Party Republicans gloat and mock those of us who are so upset, not understanding that Trump does not have their best interests in mind either. Trump didn’t expect to win, he just wanted the chance to accuse Hillary and the liberal media of rigging the system, and to harp on her damned emails. Oh yeah, the Russians have admitted that they have been in contact with his staff all along, and were responsible for the ugly crap that came from Wikileaks. I read this and can hardly believe this is not a bad dream.

Trump, who said he would immediately gut Obamacare 3 days ago, now says that “in respect for President Obama” he will consider keeping some of the provisions, like covering those with pre-existing conditions. When protestors took to the street Wednesday night, he tweeted that they were professionals guided by the media. Last night he said it was so nice that people were peacefully protesting, as is their right. (I suspect that came from someone else. His staff have tried, and mostly failed, to reign him in)

What will happen tomorrow? Who knows. He’s working on appointing his peers to high government offices. Rudy Guilani as Attorney General. Newt Gringrich, Sarah Palin- maybe Secretary of the Environment – drill, baby, drill, Ben Carson – who denies climate change and evolution – for Secretary of Education!

Trump is becoming calmer and is already walking back some of his most outrageous promises. Maybe he will not be as big a disaster as we fear. What can’t go back in the bottle are the people he empowered to be bullies, racists (the KKK and White Supremists adore him) bigots …

As a wise woman once said, we have to “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living”

We’re going to do our best to save our country.

 

 

2014: A year of changes

I’ve been away awhile, and now I can’t seem to figure out how to add a new post. Oh well, I’ll try it this way.
There are certain events in our lives that are very stressful, both good stress and bad stress. Losing a loved one; serious illness; retirement; vacations. Add to that remodeling your house. I went through all of the above in 2014. I lost my mother, Velma Ruth Steward Robertson Hornsby, on June 17. She was 93 and in poor health, but it was still a shock. I am an orphan child. That was the week before my retirement, after 33 years, from Rice University. I’m still waking up at the usual time, but I quickly realize I don’t have to anymore. I dream often that I am back at work, although I really don’t want to – or maybe a little. Thirty-three years in Fondren Library, five more years in grad school at Rice, that’s a big chunk of my life. I’m still trying to reorganize my life, but I’m getting there. The night before my last day at work, I started having chest pain and a severe pain behind my left shoulder blade. I waited for it to pass for several hours, but it didn’t. I took myself to urgent care, thinking surely it’s not a real heart attack, but the folks at the clinic sure were taking it seriously. They gave me the drug for angina, and sure enough the pain started to abate. I spent 3 days in the hospital, after calling my boss to say sorry, but I’d have to miss my last day at work. Every possible test was given. I was poked and prodded and ex-rayed and ultrasounded … Finally one of the staff doctors decided it was all caused by my Barrett’s Esophagus, which can have the same symptoms. Now I know.
Now for the good stress: In August, I took my two sons and three granddaughters on an Alaskan cruise. One of the girls was already in college, and the other two were about to start. I didn’t know if we would ever be able to gather like that, and I hoped to make some lasting memories. Memories were made, and a good time was had by all. In September, I traveled to western Ireland with my folk singing Irish-American friends, Annie and Marie Burns and several like-minded folks. It was my first trip, and I fell in love with the beautiful landscape and the gentle people.

In October I went to Long Beach, California, where I attended Bouchercon, the main convention for mystery writers and readers. I’m a bit of both. Mystery writers are fun and funny and generous and not at all weird (well, maybe some good weird) or bloodthirsty, even if their books are. I’ve gotten to know several writers, and several are good friends. I couldn’t go this year, but I’ll be in New Orleans in 2016.

There was another reason to go to Long Beach in 2014.  In October 1944, my mother took the train from Texas to Long Beach to marry my father, who was in between ships. His first ship, the USS Elliot, was stationed at Pearl Harbor. As fate would have it, his was one of the ships who left port on Dec. 5. When the Elliot returned to the harbor, he was stunned by all the damage. He said :here I was, a 20 year old kid, never been out of Texas, and I couldn’t believe what men can do to others. I didn’t mean to include this story, but with what’s going on right now I had to express my feelings, which are much like my father’s. Anyway, they were married at city hall. I was hoping it would still be there, but time marches on. The art deco gem where they pledged their troth was gone, replaced by a 60’s box. There was a model of that old one in the lobby, so I at least got to see what it looked like 70 years ago.

Let’s see if this works. If so, I’ll be back with photos.

I’m back …

I know I’ve been silent for a long time, but life got in the way. I got a wakeup call when WP sent me a notice that “someone” had asked to change my password, and that someone wasn’t me. I have re-claimed my turf!  Several big life events happened in the last year or so. I retired, after 33 years in the same job at Rice University. My mother went into hospice in 2013, and in June 2014, finally went to join her two husbands, Hulbert H. Robertson, the young hero and father of my big sister Gwen, who died in WWII, and the old hero, my dad, Sterling L. Hornsby, who survived that war and lived to be 89. I had some health issues and one big scare. My son, my rock, left Houston to move to L.A. This month he moved back, so that’s a Good Thing that happened. I took my two sons and three granddaughters on an Alaskan cruise in Aug. 2014. I took myself on a Viking River cruise from Paris to Prague in Aug. 2015. Pix to come. Steve Jones, if you see this post, I will be writing you soon, I promise. Love to you and Sabina.

More to come.

This is my story of my Uncle Jewel E. Whisenant, a hero in war and in life:

Jewel E. Whisenant: The Young Man Arose From the Dead

 

By Shirley Wetzel

 

Jewel Edward Whisenant, son of M. C. and Thula Whisenant, was born on April 29, 1918. He grew up in Dublin, Erath County, Texas. For his first two decades, he drifted, without a goal in life. Then, with World War II looming on the horizon, he enlisted in the Army. This decision changed his life forever. He trained to be a half-track driver in the Mojave Desert, and excelled in all he did. He was not a Christian, but while in training he became close friends with a young man who was, Allen Lee Jones. He admired Allen’s strong faith, but did not share it.

 

About that time, he had another life-changing event. He fell in love with Frances Stewart, also of Dublin. Her father wasn’t too happy about her choice, as Jewel had a reputation for being kind of wild, but love would not be denied. They were married in a beautiful ceremony, then moved up to Camp Kilmer, Pennsylvania, in 1942, where he had more training to prepare him for battle. She came from a Christian family, but religion wasn’t a big part of their life. She taught Jewel the only prayer she knew: “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

 

After he left for deployment, she saw a small steel-covered Bible in a shop window. She wasn’t sure whether to buy it, but she heard the voice of God telling her that if she didn’t, she’d never see him again. Finally she bought it, and mailed it to Jewel. She included a note: “May this book keep you from harm.” In the last mail call before boarding the ship for Europe, Jewel heard his name called. “Old Tex has a package!” He treasured that gift of love, and carried it in his breast pocket every day thereafter.

 

He arrived in England to await the invasion of Europe. On September 17, 1943, he was leading his men in a battle in an orchard in Belgium. There had been 70% casualties, including many officers, and he was promoted from Sergeant to acting Lieutenant. They were pinned down in a trench under heavy fire when replacements began coming in. One young man was cut down just a few feet from safety. He said “Sarg, I’m dying, send for the medics,” but nothing could be done. The mortally wounded soldier began to recite the Lord’s Prayer as he slipped away. Jewel said to himself that if God can give that young man such peace in battle and in death, that’s the God I want to serve. He gave his life to God that day. With new strength and resolve, he led his men out of the orchard, saying “follow me,” and they all did. He still carried that Bible next to his heart, with the list of the names of his men tucked inside.

 

January 3, 1944. During a fierce battle, Jewel was shot multiple times, in the left eye, the stomach, chest and leg. He was carried to the operating theater, and remembers nothing until he woke up in a large room, surrounded by bodies, with a tag on his toe. He saw a woman in white, and called “Nurse!” She replied, in shock, “Sergeant, what are you doing awake? You’re supposed to be dead!”

 

“Set me up, help me, my face hurts!” He had lost sight in his left eye, and had thirty-seven stitches in his face, but he was alive. The nurse pulled the Bible from his shirt pocket. A bullet was lodged in it; the steel jacket and the list of his men’s names had stopped it from penetrating his heart. The bullet stopped at Luke 7:12:

 

And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not. …

 

And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.

 

And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

 

The war was over for Jewel Whisenant. He went home to Dublin, to his mother and his beloved wife, and started a church. The Southside Baptist Church was the first of over a hundred he was to establish during his long career. He died on December 19, 2009, and the church was full of ministers he had trained and the many friends and loved ones whose lives he’d touched.

 

I am proud to say that he was my uncle, married to my mother’s baby sister Frances. There have never been two more kind, generous, courageous, and funny human beings on this earth. He was a hero on the battlefield and a hero in his life. Frances, who always referred to herself as his encourager, wrote a book about their years together. The title is, appropriately enough, The Encourager. If you’d like to learn more about Jewel and Frances Whisenant and their inspiring life, I recommend you read this book.

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Encourager-Ministry-Whisenant-Companion/dp/1881825108

 

 

 

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