Monthly Archives: January 2021

Out With The Old, In With…

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Yes, the entire world is under siege by a deadly virus, but I still feel some degree of optimism. There’s something about Joe Biden that invites me to trust him. You may not agree, but, to me, he just seems very real. As I watched Joe giving a press briefing, I felt he spoke to the American citizens as an American citizen. No airs, no pompous attitude, nothing like his predecessor who, I felt, always came off like he thought he was a ruling monarch. It always made me nervous when he started to speak. He was just plain scary.

I was really encouraged by Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s Press Briefing on January 25th. It feels like things in this country may actually get “back to normal,” whatever normal may be these days. At least we will be heading in a positive direction:

First, as a part of this administration’s accessibility and inclusion efforts, starting today, we will have an ASL — an American Sign Language — interpreter for our daily press briefings… The President is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just, and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families.

She continued:

President Biden issued an executive order setting the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the armed forces of the United States should be able to serve.  Today’s action revokes the Presidential Memorandum of March 2013 [23], 2018, and also confirms the revocation of the Presidential Memorandum of August 25th of 2017. 

Today’s action fulfills another campaign promise.  With this EO, no one will be separated or discharged from the military or denied reenlistment on the basis of gender identity.  And for those transgender service members who were discharged or separated because of their gender identity, their cases will be reexamined. 

President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service and that America’s strength is found in its diversity.  America is stronger at home and around the world when it is inclusive.


This afternoon, the President will sign an executive order that takes an important step to support American manufacturing.  With this “Buy American” executive order, the President is already making good on his commitment to building a future that is made in America by all of America’s workers.

Here’s to a safer, more inclusive, more prosperous future for the United States of America and all that it has stood for. 


About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Will We Ever Be Normal Again?

As we say goodbye to the Trump years and begin the Biden presidency, some people are talking about a return to normality.  This talk is premised on the notion that the Trump years, particularly the past few months, are an anomaly.  But what exactly is normal for our country?

True, we’ve never had an armed mob storm the U.S. Capitol in a desperate attempt to block the results of an election.  But our country has always had demagogues, con artists, opportunists, and sleazy provocateurs looking for their fifteen minutes of fame.  Without wishing to diminish the magnitude of the threat the current bunch pose, it is instructive to look at what was normal in the past.  

Long before Trump’s tweets supporting white supremacists, Woodrow Wilson openly supported Jim Crow laws because he believed whites were superior to blacks.   In 1924, a purported one million Klansmen descended on the Washington, DC mall in their white robes and hoods to spout their hatred of blacks, Catholics, Jews and immigrants.  President Calvin Coolidge didn’t condemn them or their rhetoric. 

Before social media platforms amplified the white power movement, a Catholic priest named Father Coughlin hid behind the label of “Christian” while spewing anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi garbage. He was the country’s most popular talk radio host in the 1930’s until some of his supporters were arrested on suspicion of trying to overthrow the U.S. government.   

Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz aren’t the first politicians to endanger the country in the cynical pursuit of their personal ambitions.   John C. Calhoun announced his national ambitions by whipping up an anti-British mob that pushed the country into the War of 1812.  That’s the war we don’t talk about because the British burned down the White House.  Calhoun became a prominent pro-slavery southerner who developed the legally dubious “nullification” theory which Tennessee’s less-gifted politicians periodically drag out of the trashcan of history. 

Hawley and Cruz are also not the first politicians whose cynical ploy backfired on them.  In 1804, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were fading into the political sunset when they decided that fighting a duel would draw attention to resurrect their careers.  Instead, Hamilton was gut-shot and died in agony days later while Burr had to go on the lam to escape a murder charge.

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln traveled to his first inauguration by train.  His travel schedule was supposed to be kept secret and security was increased due to the number of death threats he received. Several last-minute route changes ensured he arrived at the U.S. Capitol on time to be sworn in as president. 

This year, Joe Biden had planned to travel to his inauguration by train.  But last week a brief announcement said that Biden’s travel plans had changed due to the level of violent threats made against him (and V.P.-elect Kamala Harris).   Unfortunately, and depressingly, our new normal looks a lot like the old normal. 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle ( which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (

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The Other Side of the Couch – A Silver Lining


As sickening as the mob is that overran our Capitol building on January 6, 2021, I am oddly grateful for it.

Terrible crisis always brings with it amazing opportunity.

This crisis has brought into stark reality the ways in which our country has been infiltrated by anti-democratic fascism.  Thousands have been radicalized by the ongoing lies perpetrated by Trump, Trumpism, Fox News, and all the social media platforms that were allowed to run unchecked over the last four years.

Katherine Belew, author of Bring the War Home (a treatise on the reality of the white power movement that extends all the way back to the aftermath of the Viet Nam war) writes that law enforcement and media in the U.S. have looked the other way at domestic terrorism, defining violence perpetrated by angry white men as “lone wolf” types of events. She shows that these anti-democratic, pro white-power groups, essentially Nazi-like in their beliefs, are actually deeply embedded in our culture. There aim is to OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT and to create what they call a transnational white country (excluding any kind of person who is “not white”). Unsure about whether a group is patriotic or not – look for the Nazis. If there are Nazis or Nazi-like rhetoric involved, be sure the group is NOT patriotic!

The ideology of Trumpism, America First, anti-immigrant, anti-black and indigenous peoples, is not conservative. It is radical, and its aim is to de-stabilize and ultimately dismantle the institutions that have governed this country since its inception in 1776.

Why on earth, then, would I say there is silver lining to this horrific event?

The way I see it – the reality is no longer hidden. It is no longer possible to discount Trump and his extremist followers as “patriotic Americans who are exercising their free speech rights”. The President of the United States incited violence. He supported an insurrection. We saw it happen. It cannot be denied.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s powerful condemnation of Trump and of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol compares what happened to the Nazi’s Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass – the ominous beginning of the rise of Hitler’s legions. His video is well worth watching. Look him up on Youtube.

Our democracy held, and swift change has followed. No more Twitter, no more Facebook, no more access to social media by President Trump. The “free-speech app” Parler was shut down when Amazon removed its access to its servers. Large corporations are informing elected officials who objected to the state’s electoral votes in the House and Senate that they would not be receiving campaign donations. The FBI began investigations into hundreds of people who appeared in video on the Capitol assault, and arrests have begun. Trump may be impeached for a second time – and this time he could be convicted.

As we enter a new year, a new administration, and new hope for a different future, I am glad that the reality of these extreme groups has been revealed. Hidden, it was hard to believe. Out in the open, we can see the reality, and we can begin to change it.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at

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Reflections on a Dirty Martini

There’s not much more to be said of the past year, and since the new one isn’t even a week old, I’d prefer not to comment too much or even try to predict any turn of events.  Life has not felt normal for a long time and frankly, I’m tired of trying to make any sense of things right now.  Instead, I just want to reflect on something small.  A martini.

My dad’s regular drink was a dirty martini.  Medium dry, Beefeater’s Gin, with a drizzle of Vermouth, a splash of olive juice and as the piece de resistance, those gorgeous, juicy, green olives with just a peek of red pimento winking at me.  He’d come home from work, call for my mom to join him upstairs while he changed clothes and they spent a few private moments together.  Then it was back down to the kitchen to mix that perfectly glamorous drink while my mom finished preparing dinner.  I’d hang around, hoping for a taste of the olive at the end.  Year after year he’d simply tell me I was too young, while I watched him sip that tantalizing concoction.  Finally, the day came when he handed over the olive.  Aaaah!  I’d finally made it!  I took the fruit from his toothpick and popped it into my mouth, sucked on it for a few minutes, then nibbled it bit by bit, savoring the tang of the gin with the saltiness of the olive. 

To this day, a dirty martini is my decadent pleasure.  Just the look of the triangle shaped glass with the olives perched on their toothpick inside the slightly cloudy drink of gin and Vermouth, makes me think of my dad driving into the garage in his Chevy Malibu, of our Delta Green shag carpet, our paneled den where I’d watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show, my mom made up, hair done, dressed for going out.  Yep, the late 1960s and early 1970s were groovy times, at least to me. 

In retrospect, though, they were also troubled years filled with social unrest, presidential scandals, assassinations, air pollution and some really groundbreaking protest songs.  As a late baby boomer, I was ill equipped to participate actively in the struggles of my older cousins to move the needle from the heady post-war (WWII) years to bridge the Generation Gap and herald the new age of technology just on the horizon.  But I watched from the sidelines as they marched, protested, chanted and sang about the wrongs they believed needed to be put right.  Those years shaped me, too, just like my dad’s dirty martini.  Part bitter, part tart, a little sweetness and at the end, an olive plucked from that marinade.  Every evening mix and repeat. 

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at .

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