What Price?

It’s been said many times that everyone has a price.

What this means is that people will do anything if they are paid enough money or given what they want.

So the question we all need to seriously ask ourselves during these very turbulent times is:

What is YOUR price?

Is it safety from real or imagined enemies, foreign or domestic?

That is to say, doing whatever it takes to bar morally unknowable immigrants (Note: nee…all of them?) from entering our country? Or is it prohibiting any morally questionable person in support of such a policy from dining in your restaurant, not to mention, continuing as president?

Perspective

What is YOUR price?

Is it about ensuring our country thrives financially, as well as ethically?

That is to say, making sure you have a president whose first priority is cutting taxes, creating old-fashioned jobs for the long ignored and appointing Supreme Court justices who will once it again make it difficult or illegal for women to get an abortion? Or is it ceasing communication with family and now former friends who believe in all of the above, while screaming at the top of your lungs in their faces, or from the rooftops or on our airwaves, to counter their selling out our most precious American ideals of freedom, equality and democracy for all?

What is YOUR price?

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

You see where this is going. I had planned on continuing but the list and the metaphors could be – and are – endless as we approach July 4, 2018 – the 242nd anniversary of American independence.

Several days ago I watched What Price Hollywood a 1932 film directed by George Cukor about a spunky waitress who serves drinks to a charming, drunken Hollywood director that gives her a bit part in his movie, guides her to stardom and then dissipates into a state of alcoholic disrepair as her life blossoms.

The plot has since been appropriated by numerous movies, including the many versions of A Star Is Born (Note: The new Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga one opens Oct. 5, and yes, I’m counting the days). Still, this does not mean it is any less ironic or timely.

Click for the OFFICIAL countdown (to the minute) #really #REALLY

There is no reality where you can get everything you want without it costing you something. It wasn’t the waitress’ fault the director became a hopeless alcoholic and ruined his life but because he was such a great mentor and friend it breaks her heart. That is the way the drama works because that is the way the world is – we achieve things and the norms and/or people we counted on and loved quite suddenly, at least to us, fall by the wayside.

A more contemporary comparison might be Indecent Proposal, a 1993 film where billionaire Robert Redford offers happily married Demi Moore a flat $1,000,000 to spend the night with him, no strings attached. After discussing it with her high school sweetheart husband, the financially strapped Woody Harrelson, and reassuring him of their forever love, the couple agrees to the Faustian bargain and… well… it goes as Faustian bargains go if not for test marketing and a somewhat tacked on Hollywood ending.

Girl how did you think this was going to pan out? #dowagergetsreal

Meaning, if someone is going to pay you $1,000,000 suffice it to say it IS going to cost YOU – a lot – and it may not be measurable by mere currency.

It certainly seems like US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, has the right to retire from the bench anytime he wants. Yet when I read this week that he was not so subtly reassured of his legacy beforehand by the White House, and that his eldest son worked for years with Trump on real estate deals at Deutsche Bank, the institution that loaned Trump a BILLION dollars, I couldn’t help but cynically and rhetorically ask the justice, and myself, – what price?

Me… all week

Of course I will never know if a price was exacted or if this justice – the Republican who was actually the swing vote in making gay marriage the law of the land – was swayed by any of it, or by them.

So it’s instead easier for me to stew over the millions of Americans (Note: And perhaps a handful of Russian bots) who voted for and still support a president who consistently calls the press the enemy of the American people or very bad people on the very day that five journalists were gunned down in their Maryland newsroom by a crazed shooter with a vendetta against their paper. Did Trump’s words contribute to egging the guy on in that particular moment? Again, we’ll never know. But for any of his supporters who still get joy from and continue to revel in how he’s characterized one of the foundations of our democracy – the free press – again I ask – what price?

And then – well, there are the immigrant kids in those cages. Mostly brown. Many fleeing violence in their home country – the way my grandparents and friends’ relatives did when they escaped the Nazis and came here in the 1930s and early forties. Or the way my internist’s family did when he was smuggled out of war torn southeast Asia in the 1970s. Or how my dental hygienist managed it when her family ran for their lives from Iran in the 1980s.

Today in America

None of them were forcibly separated from their parents by the US government when they arrived at our borders seeking asylum (Note: The latter a legal right of ANYONE arriving at our shores. Asylum, that is).

So for those currently chuckling with satisfaction at or apoplectically angered by those of us marching in the streets who are outraged that non-English speaking three year olds are being forced to appear ALONE in court at a hearing where they are responsible for telling their own immigration story THEMSELVES before an adult in a big BLACK ROBE who towers above them, I ask – to every last one – again – what price?

And to consider if what they’re losing is worth what they’re getting in return. Financially, morally or, really, even in practical terms.

Broadway United – “We Are The World”

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It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night

What a week, right?

No, but seriously.

This was a week where the writing on the back of a $39 military green, short trench coat spoke volumes:

I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?

It was fitting that First Lady Melania Trump wore this as she boarded a U.S. government plane down to the Texas border to visit caged immigrant kids separated from their parents.

Staying on message indeed

Though she only managed to make it to the “dorms” with teenagers who tried to sneak-migrate into the U.S. alone.

Bad weather kept her away from the places where they keep the toddlers (six months is the youngest) and all others under 10 years of age who actually did travel here with Mom and/or Dad…or an aunt, uncle, or friend.

Churchgoers might see this as an act of God but I fully believe it was literally MOTHER Nature stepping in and saying enough is enough in her own unique language.

As all of us with powerful mothers understand, a play date is likely to end the second She sniffs something fishy is going on.

We call that the Betty Draper test #sheisnothavingit

And everything was odious about this week – from the cages, to the secret middle of the night evacuations of ankle monitored youngsters to seventeen unnamed U.S. cities they’d never been in, to the presidential press conference dragging out surviving family members of those killed by drunk, illegal adult immigrants and trying to connect it to the recordings of jailed crying orphaned babies everyone in the country had heard or heard about except Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen.

Well… she eventually heard them. #nojustice #nosleep

All the way down to that Zara trench.

At one point Holly, our @notesfromachair editor, even texted me to ask, Why even wear a coat when it’s 80 degrees and humid in every city she was in that day?

My only thought was her mate likes every abode and any plane they travel in to be ice cold because, these days especially, he’s sweating a lot.

#hurryup

Well, it’s better than any explanation being offered about the coat. Certainly, it’s more believable.

We like to tell ourselves it’s different when children are involved. Staunch liberals will counter and say, um, NO, you mean WHITE children – it’s ONLY different when WHITE children are involved.

Sure, that may be part of it. But really, that’s also an um, no. Because there were 20 six and seven year olds killed by an unbalanced young man wielding an assault weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, ALL but one of them lily WHITE, and NOTHING changed about guns, gun control or school shootings on a national level. Except that they multiplied.

So truly the children – brown, black, striped or white – can’t be the primary scapegoat on this. This one is on us – the adults in the room.

We WANT what WE want WHEN we WANT IT – and when we have the POWER to get it.

Or we WANT what WE HAVE and DON’T WANT to give an inch or two or three to ANYONE ELSE for fear that we will lose OUR power and MORE will be taken away FROM US.

we all have an inner moustache twirler #dontdenyit

This could be erroneous thinking. A compelling counter thesis could easily be argued convincingly from the other side and at the very least shift topic or more fully win you over with one or more better examples or theories.

Well, that’s all well and good on the high school debate team – where I remember they always used to assign you to argue for something you loathed in an effort to get you to open your mind to another way of thinking.

OK.. maybe I wasn’t the best on my debate team #canthelpit

Hmm, perhaps that’s the answer. Treat us all like h.s. debate students, but — the remedial kind!

Um, NO. Again. That strategy is already being used nationally – heck, it even explains the coat – but has only driven us further apart.

I took any number of classes in school that involved persuasion (Note: OK, stop rolling your eyes) and there is one basic strategy offered from most of them. There will always be a significant group of people who will ALWAYS DISAGREE with you. You will NEVER CONVINCE THEM. In fact, they probably WILL NOT HEAR ANYTHING you say.

Forget them.

TRUTH

On the same token, those who ALWAYS AGREE with you will only get you so FAR. They’re great to hang out with or grab a meal with or build an idea on, but they WON’T DO MUCH either in furthering your agenda.

What you WANT TO DO is to reach out to those who YOU DON’T KNOW, or those who are scared or hiding or disengaged for THEIR OWN REASONS. LISTEN TO THEM. They are reachable if you INCLUDE THEM, ENCOURAGE THEM to become part of your argument.

And for those of you LESS HOSTILE at the moment THAN MYSELF, there is still yet another group of people. Those with whom YOU DISAGREE on MANY THINGS but are STILL OPEN to HEAR YOU on INDIVIDUAL ISSUES.

Consider this an early valentine

They are in the PERSUADABLE GROUP if you approach them without a Zara coat and with the kind of patience you’d want exhibited towards you if your way of life was being questioned on some alien planet by any number of judgmental ETs.

I will resist the obvious metaphors about the latter. Suffice it to say they are personal and, in moments like this, often got me benched on the debate team.

Just know that any world in which Paul McCartney still sings Beatles songs, as he did this week in Liverpool, is one that is worth saving.

James Corden / Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke