Mar 26

Donald Trump, working the media.

Who would have thought that after his first two months as president in daily public combat with big media over everything he said and did, at the end of the day of what was reportedly his biggest political setback, President Donald Trump would make a couple of spontaneous, surprise phone calls to reporters at the two biggest newspaper outlets perpetuating what he labeled “fake news”, to chat about it?

My first thought was ‘seems like what Pope Francis has been doing since he was elected pope‘, in February 2013. Really. Early. And often. And to popular media. It’s a way to control the message, even though both leaders have media handlers.

President Trump had to have thrown the New York Times off their footing when he phoned them to talk about the failure to get the GOP health care reform bill to a vote on Friday. ‘He’s blaming Democrats’, the Times said in this story about the call.

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, was preparing to tell the public that the health care bill was being withdrawn — a byproduct, Mr. Trump said, of Democratic partisanship. The president predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year.

“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times.

“The good news is they now own health care. They now own Obamacare.”

Mr. Trump insisted that the Affordable Care Act would collapse in the next year, which would then force Democrats to come to the bargaining table for a new bill.

“The best thing that can happen is that we let the Democrats, that we let Obamacare continue, they’ll have increases from 50 to 100 percent,” he said. “And when it explodes, they’ll come to me to make a deal. And I’m open to that.”

To some degree, this had to have flummoxed Trump’s most hostile detractors.

“I’m not disappointed,” he insisted. “If I were, I wouldn’t be calling you.”

The Washington Post had a great attention-grabbing headline: ‘Hello Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead‘. Well known journalist Robert Acosta recounted the moment the call came in, and the exchange he had with the president when he answered it.

At first I thought it was a reader with a complaint since it was a blocked number.

Instead, it was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lead.

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted members and pushed for a vote.

Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.

I’m trying to picture Bob Costa at that moment, and those cold calls from Pope Francis kept coming to mind.

In sports, an artful move can result in ‘wrong footing’ an opponent. It means a player is lunging right when the ball goes left, or vice versa. You are thrown off your game. I thought of that, too.

These calls had to have thrown off two of the major media outlets Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer and other surrogates have targeted for perpetuating “fake news”. They and their entertainment media have played that up, to the point when Saturday Night Live’s string of opening skits satirized White House spokesman Spicer among others, and then Spicer refers to it in his daily press briefings, sometimes playing it up and using lines from the SNL skit, other times fitting right into that caricature. To the point where one TV news roundtable participant said he didn’t know whether it was ‘art imitating life, or life imitating art imitating life, or what’.

Which raises the real consideration of what is news, really. And Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. The chapter titled ‘The Implosion of Meaning in the Media’ opens with this quote:

We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.

Provocatively, he explores and analyzes basically what we’ve been seeing, experiencing and consuming in news media for decades.

What is news, and what is reality?

Politics right now seem to be operating more feverishly on perception becoming reality. Whether that played into President Trump’s calls to the Times and Washington Post, or to what degree it did, is hard to tell, he’s such a wild card.

But his call to Robert Costa at WaPo was certainly interesting. And lengthy. It’s a back and forth exchange on the politics of trying to get, or stop, health care reform done and who tried to stop it and what comes next, and later down the road, and what it would take to get anything done.

And then Trump said this:

“Well, look, you can say what you want,” Trump said. “But there are years of problems, great hatred and distrust, and, you know, I came into the middle of it.”

So Costa says he wanted to get some clarity before wrapping up the call. It”s easy to imagine how head spinning this was at that point.

As Trump tried to hang up the phone and get back to work, I asked him to reflect, if at all possible, on lessons learned. He’s a few months into his presidency, and he had to pull a bill that he had invested time and energy into passing.

What was on his mind?

“Just another day,” Trump said, flatly. “Just another day in paradise, okay?”

He paused.

“Take care.”

It’s all in how you take it.

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Mar 16
Family prevails. And the video of it goes viral.
Sorry if you’ve seen this dozens and dozens of times. I posted it on my personal Facebook page as soon as I saw it last week, and stopped laughing long enough to “share” and add a personal note. Since then, so many media folks with a big following in social media have shared it as well, adding their personal comments to the tweet or post or other commentary, it’s grown into a phenomenon of the moment. And one with a message.

Mollie Hemingway does the best job of capturing what happened here.

The setup:

This morning the BBC interviewed Dr. Robert Kelly, an associate professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan National University in South Korea. The topic of the interview — the impeachment of Korean President Park Geun-hye — was interesting. But Kelly’s children stole the show.

It has to be watched first, then read about. Hemingway’s Federalist piece puts our universally shared reaction to this spontaneous moment in context.

She lists the 8 (updated from 7 initial) best things about the children taking all the attention from Dad during his BBC interview. There was a ‘marching toddler’ and a ‘rolling baby’, and viewers had their favorites. One tweeted

Enter every room like the kid who interrupts the BBC Skype interview.

Another

Y’all, the baby rolling in got me crying.

I actually laughed to that point of tears. Hearty, knowing, laughter.

Here’s another happy tweet

I legit can’t stop watching this.

Then there’s the mom who realizes what’s happening in real time, and she comes tearing around the doorway into the room, ducking to avoid the camera (or so she thinks) and grab the kids, and we can’t help but laugh with them, to the point of tears.

Mollie Hemingway and her husband frequently do media interviews and manage their family life at the same time.

By the time the mom rushes into the room, realizing the kids have gone rogue during their dad’s very important interview, the comedic value is unquestioned. She goes low — and speaking as someone who does these types of interviews and who is married to someone who does Skype interviews, I can assure you this is a natural instinct.

…having been interrupted by the chaos of life while on air, I know how stressful it is for children to enter the scene. I have never handled it as well as this guy, who keeps his composure as he tries to signal to his toddler to get out of the room. But he’s also totally laughing it off.

Which is refreshing, when we see the utter humanity of happy family chaos break in on structured, managed and reasonably controlled circumstances.

Television is so well-produced that we rarely see real life interrupt our broadcasts. When the toddler walks in, the interviewer is forced to acknowledge this, breaking down the wall we normally preserve between work and home life.

Or at least the perception of it. When one lives in their office and works in their home, this can happen. For all of us who do that, this provided huge comic relief.

The Wall Street Journal was among the major world media whose follow up coverage outdid the initial intended interview.

The buzz has even overshadowed the major news Mr. Kelly was on air to discuss: the impeachment of South Korea’s president.

“It’s a comedy of errors,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

He also said he and his wife “immediately feared the worst, assuming that he wouldn’t be contacted again to appear on TV.” This is easy to picture:

“We said to each other, ‘Wow, what just happened?’ ” Mr. Kelly, said, adding the blame was entirely on him for not locking the door….

“I made this minor mistake that turned my family into YouTube stars. It’s pretty ridiculous,” he said.

That’s right.

He immediately wrote to the BBC to apologize, but within 15 minutes the broadcaster asked if it could put a clip of the interview on the internet. The couple initially declined, feeling uncomfortable that people might laugh at their children. But they were eventually persuaded that the video would show they were just a regular family.

Within a couple of hours, it became clear to them that the video would disrupt their lives…

Yes, that’s because it “had been viewed over 84 million times on the BBC Facebook page as of Tuesday morning U.S. time. It has been covered by media from Uruguay to Nigeria to Australia, and dissected in thousands of news articles and social media posts around the world. Many have expressed warm feelings toward the family…”

Proving that this brief sequence of events in the life of a family doing what they do in their routine at home, spontaneous chaos and all, brought us together in ways punditry and social science brilliance never could.

Watch both videos, the one on The Federalist site, and aftermath family discussion with the Wall Street Journal here. They’re so human, so endearing.

Mr. Kelly describes his reaction (to the initial disruption) as a mixture of surprise, embarrassment and amusement but also love and affection. The couple says they weren’t mad and didn’t scold the children. “I mean it was terribly cute,” Mr. Kelly said. “I saw the video like everybody else. My wife did a great job cleaning up a really unanticipated situation as best she possibly could… It was funny. If you watch the tape I was sort of struggling to keep my own laughs down. They’re little kids and that’s how things are.”

The otherwise cool, calm, collected Dad laughs and says “This is my life, man!”

This is a life more of us can relate to, exactly, as we ‘do media’ in setting where family, or pets, or neighbors pets or lawn mowers or snowblowers just outside the door or window can cause significant distraction or interruption.

But that’s what made this more than another foreign affairs interview on a global network covering so many stories of the moment, we can’t keep up so most people don’t even try. This interview was supposed to be about the impeachment of South Korea’s president. But wound up in the Wall Street Journal as this: “When the Children Crash Dad’s BBC Interview: The Family Speaks”.

And that’s what the world needs to hear. And see.

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Mar 16

And a proudly progressive mom calls for a reality check.

After opening the blog post she felt necessary to write by saying that she was reluctant to write it, as a tolerant person who would likely be labeled and derided as intolerant, ‘The Get Real Mom’ stated clearly: “This is a story about a biological man in the women’s restroom.”

Innate sensibility prevailed when a startled young mother was disturbed enough by her own experience at a Disneyland women’s restroom when a man walked in, and stayed, while women and children nervously looked for someone to say or do something. But…not…them.

First, she felt the need to establish liberal bona fides.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for over a decade and have seen my fair share of transgender/gender fluid people. They in no way offend me. I’d consider myself pretty progressive and tolerant of most things…how transgender people feel, how they choose to dress or any surgeries they get, don’t infringe on any parts of my life, so I support their decision to live as they see fit. I’ve also seen my fair share of transgender women in the women’s restroom before. Not ALL the time. But over the past few years, I’d say 4-5 that I noticed. Men…who were in some stage of transition and making every attempt to be a woman from mascara to heels. Transgenders who certainly felt comfortable in the women’s room and probably frightened to go into the men’s. At these times, I smiled…I peed…and life went on. But 2 weeks ago something very different happened.

She and her friend took their young sons to the park for an outing, stopped for lunch and headed for the women’s restroom before the next adventure. They took turns, each watching the children for the other.

I was off to the side waiting with the two boys, when I noticed a man walk into the restroom…He took a few more steps, at which point he would’ve definitely noticed all the women lined up and still kept walking. My next thought was, “Maybe he’s looking for his wife…or child and they’ve been in here a while.” But he didn’t call out any names or look around. He just stood off to the side and leaned up against the wall. At this point I’m like, “…Am I the only one seeing this?” I surveyed the room and saw roughly 12 women, children in tow…staring at him with the exact same look on their faces. Everyone was visibly uncomfortable. We were all trading looks and motioning our eyes over to him…like “what is he doing in here?” Yet every single one of us was silent. And this is the reason I wrote this blog.

Somebody has to be willing to speak up, and they were all afraid. She realized that reality, as one who had been among the unwilling to be considered judgmental, or to call any behavior or boundary crossing wrong. Until clearly it was.

We had been culturally bullied into silenced. Women were mid-changing their baby’s diapers on the changing tables and I could see them shifting to block his view. But they remained silent. I stayed silent. We all did. Every woman who exited a stall and immediately zeroed right in on him…said nothing. And why? B/c I…and I’m sure all the others were scared of that “what if”. What if I say something and he says he “identifies as a woman” and then I come off as the intolerant ass… at the happiest place on earth? So we all stood there, shifting in our uncomfortableness…trading looks. I saw two women leave the line with their children. Still nothing was said. An older lady said to me outloud, “What is he doing in here?” I’m ashamed to admit I silently shrugged and mouthed, “I don’t know.” She immediately walked out…from a bathroom she had every right to use without fear.

This was more than a dawning awareness. It was sudden. “I’m ashamed to admit I silently shrugged…” shows the revelation this woman had in that moment that ‘the culture’ has ‘bullied us into silence’, but we still have our sensibilities, and they come alive in a moment when visceral reaction tells us what’s wrong is wrong, no matter what anybody calls it.

And let me be clear, my problem wasn’t JUST that there was a man in the restroom. Its that he wasn’t even peeing, washing his hands or doing anything else that you’d do in a restroom. He was just standing off to the side looking smug…untouchable… doing absolutely nothing. He had to of noticed that every woman in the long line was staring at him. He didn’t care. He then did a lap around the restroom walking by all the stalls. You know, the stalls that have 1 inch gaps by all the doors hinges so you can most definitely see everyone…

So yes… there were women and small children using the restroom and this man was walking around knowing no one would say anything.  So here I am…writing this blog, because honestly I need answers. We can’t leave this situation ambiguous any more. The gender debate needs to be addressed… and quickly. There have to be guidelines. It can’t just be a feeling… this notion that we’re shamed into silence b/c we might offend someone, has gone too far.

There are answers. People, experts and organizations and rights groups, have been engaging this debate for a long time, and she’s right in calling out those who have been trying to bully them and everyone into silence about saying what is true and right and good, and what is wrong.

There was a man who felt entitled to be in the woman restroom, because he knew no one would say anything. There were 20-25 people by the time I left, who were scared and uncomfortable by his ominous presence. And the only thing stopping us, was our fear of political correctness and that the media has told us we don’t know what gender is anymore. I never want to be in the position again. Im not asking for permission to tell transgender people to get out my bathroom. I need to know it’s ok to tell a man, who looks like a man, to get…out. Gender just can’t be a feeling. There has to be science to it. DNA, genitals, amount of Sephora make up on your face, pick your poison, but as a very progressive woman…I’m sorry it can’t just be a feeling when theres but a mere suggestion of a door with a peep hole separating your eyes from my…or my children’s genitals.

There is science to it. Here’s an exceptionally good and thorough report in The New Atlantis for anyone who didn’t encounter it before, and is willing to now, like ‘The Get Real Mom’. We don’t need to listen to or obey the media, or the culture, or prevailing forces in politically driven movements. We don’t need permission to tell a man hanging out in the women’s room to leave. It’s not about feelings. It’s about human truths and dignity, and the courage to stand for them.

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Mar 10

It can never happen in the real world.

Women do it all, with seemingly more arms and legs and eyes and heart than the human body visibly reveals, more depth and emotion and intellect and drive and seems humanly possible. ‘That’s no brag, just fact’ goes a longtime folk saying. In fact, women not only don’t tend to brag, they don’t tend to realize the enormity of their value to the world and the individuals in their one on one relationships they have as daughters, sisters, friends, wives, mothers.

So when International Women’s Day came around on March 8th, planners of the largest, most publicized event in the US to mark the occasion made it a strike, to protest oppression, inequality, ‘reproductive rights’, defunding of Planned Parenthood, Donald Trump. Instead of being a day to celebrate and stand proudly for something, those organizers made it a protest against many things and people. They missed a big opportunity. And a lot of points about what really helps women and doesn’t hurt, or eliminate, them.

Here’s how it appeared to a lot of Americans otherwise occupied with daily work and concerns, women ‘going on strike to highlight their clout’. It was a strike carried out on social media to show the lengths to which they would go to spread their message. ”Many of our national organizers have been arrested in an act of civil disobedience. We will not be silent.”

Who was trying to silence them? What did they stand for instead of against? What is ‘reproductive justice’? Who was minding the children while moms were taking ‘a day off’ of work and shopping and home life, to be out in the streets? Were there no women manning Planned Parenthood clinics, or did they find that work too necessary for women’t ‘empowerment’? What did they say about the school districts that cancelled classes for lack of teachers, causing working single moms to scramble for childcare? Where did the lower income children who relied on school meals for their nutrition go when their schools closed because of the strike?

Are we more enlightened and encouraged now, or less? Since there’s a day set aside for the global recognition of the unique role and contribution of women in history, culture and society, how can we make the most and the best of that opportunity? The initiative raised more questions than it answered.

But some women have considered and answered these and other questions, and did us all a favor by their reflections.

Like Margot Cleveland’s Federalist piece about the millions of women the world would do without, not for a day but forever, because of enabling ideologies instead of protecting women.

And Pia de Solenni’s Crux piece about proudly being at work that day, representing the finest in women’s achievements and nobly holding to her responsibilities to serve an important role.

The contrast between the trailblazing women mathematicians chronicled in [the film] Hidden Figures and the women leading [Wednesday's] protest, A Day Without Women, leaves me stunned. For generations, even centuries, women have sought equality in all aspects of life. Women in the U.S., where the present protest originates, enjoy rights and opportunities of which women in many parts of the world can scarcely dream.

It seems paradoxical, not to mention confusing, that women would absent themselves from paid work when it’s only recently in human history that so many of us can enjoy these opportunities.

Furthermore, she continues

As women, we have specific responsibilities whatever our states in life. Now we’re being asked to cast them aside, no matter how hard we’ve fought for them.

This sends a conflicting message. The organizers of this protest are saying to the world that women can’t be counted upon. They’re telling our male colleagues (paid and unpaid) that women won’t have their backs on this one day. In many ways, they’re reinforcing what I had hoped were unfair stereotypes.

I can’t even begin to imagine the women mathematicians from Hidden Figures deciding to stay home. They worked hard and made many sacrifices. In fact, they saw themselves advancing the cause of black Americans by showing up and doing work that most Americans, regardless of skin color or sex, couldn’t do. Not showing up for the job wasn’t part of the equation.

There’s more to this protest. For some, it’s a way to signal grievances against the current U.S. President, even though women voted for him. For others, it’s a slightly veiled demonstration to support abortion. All of these women have the right to express themselves and to protest.

But they don’t represent all women, and that’s the challenge for any women’s movement. It has to be diverse enough to include most women. That’s where this protest fails miserably.

Exactly. I’m a proud member of Women Speak for Themselves because of their intellectual honesty, their breadth and depth, their reach and grasp, their efforts to build up a grassroots movement of women across America who will be informed and get engaged at the local level to help communities find and build on resources to serve women, children, families and the social fabric that holds us together. It’s a group that says it’s not “pro-woman” to model outfits and images that reduce women to their bodies and think that’s a good idea. And says ‘No Melinda Gates, it’s not pro-woman to put contraception at the center of a woman’s agenda; its health effects on women and its broader harms to male-female relations and the sexual marketplace are too well-documented.’

This letter from a mother to her daughters, sincere and personal, bespeaks the ‘feminine genius’ John Paul II so eloquently wrote of, encouraging women to embrace a new feminism.

Being fully present, by listening, feeling, empathizing—always holding serious eye contact, and often the touch of a hand—builds trust. Trust builds confidence and confidence enables you to look forward, dream more and focus on others vs. yourself. Being present is the greatest gift you can give another person, and the greatest way to more closely connect with them. When you are present, you are living in the moment vs in your mind. You are seeing, hearing, and feeling another person, and together you are even more empowered to do great things. This is a gift that often comes more naturally to women.

This is true, and it is beautiful.

On International Women’s Day, I attended an event that brought together a wide cross-section of women and men of diverse demographics, backgrounds, age and experience, and I learned so much from the encounters there, brief as those couple of hours were, before heading back to my office and studio for a live radio show, half of which focused on comprehensive health care for women and their families, the health risks of birth control, and fertility awareness and how federal dollars could best serve women in community health centers.

At the event, one of the Little Sisters of the Poor engaged me in conversation, with the joy each and all of them embody, talking about the work they do to care for the elderly, sick and dying patients they love and enjoy serving. These are women who don’t want to, or have the luxury to, take a day off. Taking ‘a day without a woman’ and leaving their patients and residents without a Sister to care for them is unimaginable.

Women are never ‘off’, and are at their happiest with those they love and serve and share a relationship with, whether in family or social circle. The mother’s letter to her daughters urged this:

You are fully aware of how blessed you are, the incredible gifts you were born with that your brother doesn’t have and the gifts he has that you don’t possess. You know how happy you feel when you are doing what you love and that comes so easily and naturally to you.

Feminism and femininity go together when rightly ordered and embraced. There really is a complementarity of the sexes, this mother is helping her daughters understand the natural beauty of that phenomenon. And ultimately, “your family is your foundation, and also your greatest enabler. When it comes to your family, we should be with you everywhere you are, as you are always and forever with us.”

That mother embodies the feminine genius. And she does her daughters, and her son, a great, lifelong, never-ending service by imbuing them with such wisdom that transcends the ages.

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Mar 06

New policy must take care to avoid humanitarian crises.

In my work as a journalist, I try to personalize what is otherwise an ‘issue’ and apply universal principles of human rights to policies that impact human lives. That’s the case for many national and global news stories, breaking and current or ongoing.

When President Donald Trump issued the Executive Order on immigration and refugees on January 27th, it became personal for me and my extended family. For the past three years, my cousins living and working in Asia have worked personally and extensively to help three Iranian converts to Christianity navigate the complex, multi-layered, involved process of applying for visas to come to America and freedom from harassment in the Asian country they were in, and a worse fate in the country they were from, if deported back. They were weeks away from arriving in the US when the Executive Order came down, and alarmingly put the brakes on their case and fate, along with so many countless others.

For more than three years, they’ve gone through ‘extreme vetting’ by international entities and US governmental ones, involving many interviews and background checks, clearing many hurdles and finally anticipated receiving their travel date to the US, with an agency and sponsors in America preparing to receive them and help them resettle here. The three had become four, as the young 24 year old woman we’ll call Nina was pregnant and due to deliver her daughter in early May. The clock was ticking for getting out of a danger zone for them all, especially with Nina’s ability to travel soon diminishing.

After family on two other continents did all they could with international agencies and diplomatic assistance, I got engaged after that Executive Order was issued. Our elected Members of Congress are there for the people, and I turned to them. Providing two House of Representative members dossiers on the three refugees, and a thorough timeline of events that included case numbers for each international agency and US government department involved, the two Congressmen – one Democrat and one Republican, both Catholic, pro-life, advocates for religious freedom and humanitarian relief – said they would do what they could. Enough said.

Within days, the three received papers of clearance, with a travel date and itinerary, and instructions to carry out the process of departing for America, and where they would go on arrival, cared for by a family agency and our family sponsors. Because their flight would first touch down on American soil in my hometown of Chicago, I was able to be at the airport’s international terminal to greet them as they came through the doors after clearing Customs and Immigration, and it was a profound experience, to welcome four refugees to America, the youngest not yet able to hold, to look into her eyes and say ‘welcome’, though she’s the one who will be born a US citizen.

They came so close to not making it here, they were on the edge of despair, starting to think of what other options they may still have on a closing window of opportunity, maybe needing to go elsewhere if that were even possible, when the Executive Order restraining order was upheld in the Ninth Circuit Court, and everything went back to the drawing board.

So many people in so many families across the globe have similar stories of those days, with different US Representatives intervening on their behalf for good reason. Two other Congressmen talked with me on radio about our need to help foreign nationals who served US forces as translators come to America and bring their families, as a matter of duty and honor and service.

A new Executive Order is imminent, and may have been issued by the time readers see this. It needs to be considerably better than the one on January 27th. As my esteemed friend and radio guest Robert P. George stated in this First Things article on this policy process:

There is an enormous amount of confusion about the EO. President Trump bears much responsibility for the confusion, and his critics bear some of it. In my opinion, the EO was not necessary and therefore should not have been issued…A significant part of the reason is that we already have “extreme vetting” of refugees. In this important respect, we are quite unlike many European nations. Of course, most Americans don’t know this. So they fear that what has happened in some places in Europe could happen here. I myself only learned about the stringency of our refugee vetting procedures as a result of extensive briefing when I was chairing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). There are many things in our government that are “broken,” but our refugee vetting system isn’t one of them.

In the case of the three refugees I welcomed to America, I can vouch for that. Their process was long and thorough, their paperwork and case files extensive. When they came through those doors an agent of the International Organization for Migration accompanied them until we saw each other and I rushed to greet them. He let us have the several hours of their layover together, to talk, have some refreshment in an airport cafe, quiet time in the terminal lounge, and their first hours of their new life in a ‘soft landing’ as my family abroad put it, the one who started helping them on this long journey. His wife was at their final destination to welcome them there and take them to the place arranged by the family services agency.

This is one case of three very vulnerable, courageous human beings, the fourth and most vulnerable of all was the child in Nina’s womb. But our joy in embracing each other as now ‘extended family’, was one profound story that personalized the issue of ‘refugees’, and our vetting process already in place served everyone well.

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