Monday, February 20, 2017


     So, my friends, the app idea I described two posts ago is now officially on indefinite hiatus.  Without funding, we can't move it forward.  But, to my own surprise, I don't feel like curling up into a ball and sobbing for a week, because there are other guides out there, and people are using them, and they're working.  Everyone who cares about these things knows about Indivisible by now, and what a phenomenal job that small group of dedicated young people has done in training the opposition to adapt and use Tea Party tactics against this administration.  And remember how, shortly after the election, the ACLU tweeted that if Trump violated the Constitution, they would see him in court?  Well, they were every bit as good as their word, and I have complete faith that they're going to continue to be.  (Plus, as an added bonus for lawyers like me, they actually make our profession look heroic!  How often does that happen??) 
     As far as the specific purpose Call to Action was intended to serve - putting access to their Representatives at millennials' fingertips - there are other groups that are doing that.  Check out  That site has a lot of bells and whistles which millennials (and others) might find overwhelming, but it's full of valuable news and information, and if you do a little looking on the site it's not hard to figure out how to step up and make your voice heard.  If you prefer to use a simpler tool, try  It's not an app, but it does almost exactly what our app would have done: give the user up-to-the-minute information about the latest government outrages, and tell him or her the most productive options for getting involved.
     I'm sad about Call to Action, but much less sad than I would have been if there was a dire need for its existence but we couldn't get it off the ground.  But people around the country - red states, blue states - are rising up and shouting: Not on my watch, Trump.  If you want to go after the poorest, the sickest, the most vulnerable members of our society - and you've made it crystal clear that you do - you're going to have to go through me first.  BRING IT ON.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


  Tomorrow it will be a year since we lost Murphy (top photo).  Today we lit a yahrzeit candle for him and talked about how incredibly lucky we were to have him in our lives for almost 10 years.  I've been trying to come up with a blog post for today, and then a little while ago the idea hit me: why not compare Murphy to Donald Trump?
     For Murphy, "me" was not a concept (except for the half hour of his family's dinner time each night, when I have to admit he was really annoying).  For 23-and-a-half hours a day, all Murphy thought about was "us."  We were his pack, which isn't unusual for pet dogs.  What was unique about him was the role he saw for himself within the pack.  All day, every day, he saw it as his job to make sure that his humans knew exactly how much he loved us. 
     It was a job he took with utter seriousness.  We took him and Finney for a hike almost every weekend, and as soon as we got into the car with them, Murphy would know where we were headed and would strain every muscle to reach our faces from the back seat so he could properly thank us.  And once we were out on the hiking trail, he might exuberantly run ahead of us sometimes, but (unlike Finney) he would never voluntarily lose sight of us.  He would turn around and check to make sure we were still following, and if one of us happened to fall behind, he would walk back and join us to make sure we were okay.
     But he unfailingly thanked us for smaller things than hikes, too.  Hugs, treats, belly rubs, walks on the leash - we got our faces and hands thoroughly scrubbed every time.  He seemed worried that we would be sad, that we would think he didn't care.   
     Now let's talk about Trump.  He's a man who doesn't understand the word "us."  Dogs are pack animals, and Trump would never have made it as a dog because he wants to be the alpha without taking any responsibility for the rest of his pack. The only word he understands is "me."  I was struck recently when I read about an interview in which he spoke (and possibly bragged - for him the two are almost indistinguishable) about how little of a role he played in his children's lives when they were younger; in fact, he never even took them to the park.  Early in my career, I spent five years working as a law guardian for abused or neglected children.  The most heartrending lesson I learned from that experience was that the more extreme the abuse or neglect these children suffered at the hands of their parents, the more fiercely they clung to them and protected them.  They believed that the reason their parents had rejected them was that they (the children) had deserved it, and they unremittingly wore themselves out in futile efforts to be better and to deserve better.  I see signs of this same syndrome in Trump's children.  There doesn't seem to be anything they wouldn't do to gain their absent, self-adoring father's approval.  And can you even imagine his thanking them?  That would require a recognition on his part that they were separate entities, and he literally does not seem capable of that degree of insight.
     And now, to my utter horror, this man has become the alpha dog of the United States.  And unlike Murphy, he has no natural dignity or humility.  He lacks the most rudimentary understanding of our tripartite system of government, of the role each branch must take to check and balance the roles of the other two. Yesterday he tweeted: "When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security - big trouble!"  He believes that he is the country - he alone, and not the judicial system, not the legislature, not even the rest of what passes for his executive branch.  He believes that he is the reincarnation of  King Louis XIV of France, and with every act he proclaims again and again, "L'etat, c'est moi."   He takes credit for everything that goes right, even (especially) when it was the prudent leadership of the man most Americans wish were still our President that made it possible.
     Murphy was born a grownup.  From his earliest days, he exhibited empathy and compassion, not least toward Finney, the 8-week-old juvenile delinquent we brought into Murphy's life when he was two years old, and whom he helped us to raise.
     Trump is 70 years old.  He is pure ego with no modifying id, and that's who he will remain to the end of his days.  He doesn't care about the future of Earth's environment because if he personally won't be around when we've managed to poison our planet until it can no longer sustain life, what does it matter?  Is this a man you can picture caring about the world his own grandchildren will inherit, let alone anyone else's?  He doesn't care about the wellbeing of anyone who opposes his policies; in fact, judging by his words and actions, he mocks them and seeks vengeance against them. The shallowness of his mind is on full display for all to see.  In the midst of the extraordinary level of chaos he's unleashed on this country and on the rest of the world, to what subjects does he return obsessively?  The size of his inauguration crowd.  The fictitious voter fraud during the election which (as has been established beyond all reasonable doubt) Putin helped him win.  The U.S., for all its many flaws, has been the leader of the free world for at least the last eight years, if not much farther back than that, and its current leader functions on the emotional level of a five-year-old.
     I miss you, Murphy, more than you could ever imagine.  And God, how I miss the security of knowing that Barack Obama was in the White House.  He was human; he made mistakes; but in those eight years combined, I never knew a fraction of the fear I've felt every waking minute for the last three months. 
     As I acknowledged in this post's title, the comparison between Murphy and Trump really is an unfair one.  A ludicrous one, to be more precise.  The caliber of these two beings is so vastly different.  There are few humans - even among those who have consciences and a sense of morality - who could measure up to a noble creature like Murphy.  Donald Trump?  He never stood a chance.