Saturday, July 30, 2016

Voting Your Conscience in the 2016 Election: What Keeps Me Awake at Night

John F. Kennedy wisely said, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” The words of our beloved former President Kennedy, whose life was tragically taken by the assassination of a madman in 1963, are especially prophetic for the 2016 United States Presidential election. So were the words of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, in saying, “The only danger that America really needed to fear would come from within: If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
The importance of being informed this election year and voting wisely is more important than at any other time in our country’s recent history. What is at stake is stark! I have tried to think like Trump supporters in an attempt to assess why they would support such a candidate, but I have found that task impossible and incomprehensible.
I feel that voters have a moral imperative to become more informed about the actual facts about the real Donald Trump and not just swallow his hype and attention-getting sound bytes. To do so would mean that voters should study the policy differences of both candidates and become informed about the Constitution of the United States of America - ( at least more informed about the U.S. Constitution than Donald Trump, who apparently believes it has 12 articles in it, seems to be ). It would mean reading reliable sources and viewing universally trusted and more non-partisan news media on television and radio and on the Internet rather than limiting themselves to the bias and frequent misinformation of the pundits on Fox News (an apparent favorite of Trump supporters).
Below are some actual facts about Donald Trump, based upon his own words and behavior displayed in his rallies and other public appearances. These are facts that voters need to know:
Mr. Trump’s style, personality, racism, and insults are not patriotic, much less presidential. Such style does not lend itself to the ability to govern, to accept compromise, or to understanding the viewpoints and objectives of others. As a representative of the US, he engenders more an image of distrust, win at any cost, and selfishness.
Mr. Trump’s personal criticism of one American-born citizen and its extension to an entire population is the epitome of class racism. In addition, it reveals a basic flaw in Mr. Trump’s childish bullying practices and paranoia: the rulings that are deemed as “unfair” because he didn’t get what he wanted.

Mr. Trump’s proposal to build a wall separating Mexico “and have Mexico pay for it” promotes a first step toward isolationism, a tactic that will, without a doubt, cause harm to the US economy, citizenry and our country’s image throughout the world. His position for non-support of NATO is another step toward dangerous isolationism.

Mr. Trump  has spoken of global warming as a hoax, but seeks permits to build a(nother) wall to protect his golf course in Scotland (citing coastal erosion and a rising sea level). This is a prime example of his hypocrisy.

Mr.Trump changed his position on gun control, especially in regard to assault-type weapons. While once supporting an assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods, his recent switch is an effort to gain NRA support and paint Mrs.Clinton as one who would “abolish the Second Amendment”.

Mr.Trump made an extraordinary plea for a foreign power to continue cyber espionage against America. In Donald Trump’s own words: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at a press conference in Miami, Florida on Wednesday. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press!”
Many have questioned whether such a call by a presidential candidate is a crime or is treasonous. At the very least, it is a statement that makes it apparent that Mr. Trump lacks the judgment and temperament to assume the role of the president of our country.  Federal law does say that it's illegal to "counsel or induce" someone else to commit a crime, and a former federal prosecutor says Trump's statement "approaches the line."
Mr. Trump’s persistent criticism of Muslims and his suggested ban on immigration are counter to long-established values and practices that are inherent in the Constitution and in the American experience. His brash blanket statements reveal the wrong things about American character.

 In the poignant appearance of Muslim lawyer Khizr Khan and his wife whose son, Humayun, an Army captain who posthumously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, is a testimony to the cruel injustice of Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and his ignorance of the U.S. Constitution  and to his apparent lack of awareness of what really makes America great already.  
As his wife, Ghazala, stood silently by his side, Khan held up a copy of the Constitution and asked Trump if he had ever read it and said, “You have sacrificed nothing.”

You can view, by clicking the link provided here, the heart wrenching appearance of this intelligent, patriotic, and grieving Muslim mother and father in their DNC convention appearance talking about the loss of their son and passionately addressing  Mr. Trump for his Muslim discriminatory statements.

Quoting Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of The Art of the Deal, a man who learned a lot about Mr. Trump during his writing process, "People are dispensable and disposable in Trump’s world. If Trump is elected President, the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he actually couldn’t care less about them.

The possibility that Donald Trump could be elected as President of the United States of America is a frightening one. If that were to happen, it would be a constitutional disaster for our democracy and a catastrophe for our country’s  freedoms, safety and security. I am paraphrasing the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, when she stated that the fact that anyone who can be baited with a Tweet has no business anywhere near the nuclear codes. And to think that, as a nominee of the Republican Party, Donald Trump will soon be given, as is traditional, National Intelligence Security briefings! These are all the types of thoughts that keep me awake at night.

Note: My various blogs are, not only meant to be informative for various types of reading audiences on various subjects, but are also intended to be promotional and lend public exposure to my published books.
I am the author of three award-winning children's books that aim to advocate for the well-being, education, and entertainment of children. The books include What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World Strangers (published by Headline Books, Inc.), Scary Ghosts and Playful Ghosts: Children's Tales of Fright and Delight (published by Crimson Cloak Publishing), and The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale (published by Write Solution Ink).

Readers may also access book information, as well as useful information and resources that advocate for the education, well-being and entertainment of children by visiting my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books.

Purchase information for these books can be accessed via my Amazon Author Page.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Why I'm with Her

There are many reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton, aside from the obvious fact that Donald Trump would be a danger to our country if he should win the presidency. Listed below are just five from a list of many very good reasons:

1. She’s qualified.
To say that Hilary Clinton is qualified is like saying chocolate cake is is delicious. Here’s a list of her accomplishments that make us all look lack luster and just plain lazy:
  • She was elected Senior Class President of Wellesley College
  • Graduated with honors from Yale Law School before completing another year of graduate studies.
  • Worked on Presidential campaigns of Barry Goldwater (1964), George McGovern (1972), and Jimmy Carter (1976)
  • Took a “summer job” on Senator Walter Mondale’s committee for migrant workers in 1971
  • Chaired the Arkansas Educational Standards Committee while husband Bill Clinton was Governor
  • Co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
  • Named one of the 100 most powerful lawyers in America by the National Law Journal in 1988 AND 1991
  • 8 Years as First Lady of the United States
  • Served as US Senator from New York
  • Served as US Secretary of State
2. She has championed some AMAZING causes.
One of Secretary Clinton’s greatest achievements is the Global Health Initiative (GHI), introduced in 2010. Designed to put a focus on maternal an infant health, the GHI has implemented strategy to improve medical facilities, reduce the spread of HIV, and lower infant and maternal mortality rates. Beyond individual achievements, Clinton has made it her life’s mission to ensure the world knows one simple thing: that “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.” In every position she has held, the former First Lady has fought to bring women closer to equality. Bringing issues like women’s health, equal pay, and domestic viotence to the forefront, she has never stopped making cracks in the glass ceiling.

3. Her Stance on the Issues
One of the most important reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton (or any candidate) is that her views line up with yours. If you agree with her on the subjects below, you may have just found your candidate.
  • She’s pro equal rights for LGBT community
  • She opposes using “religious freedom” to justify cutting access to health care and discrimination
  • She understands economic inequality – and wants to fix it
  • She supports common sense gun legislation
  • She knows the criminal justice system in this country is broken
  • She wants to fix Citizen’s United
  • She supports other women in the climb toward equality
  • She supports American workers
  • She’s Pro-Choice
4. First Gentleman Bill Clinton
The job of the first spouse is an important one. In addition to serving as a public facefor the White House, the first spouse is expected to take an active role in social activism, and holds a significant advisory role. Who is better suited for this position than one of the most charismatic presidents our country has ever seen?
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you have to admit: that charm is hard to say “no” to.

5. It’s About Damn Time
When a woman takes up the mantle of “Leader of the Free World,” our nation will cross a line, never to return. I’m not saying that Hillary Clinton becoming president will magically create nationwide gender equality, because it won’t. But when we join the ranks of countries like Germany, Denmark, and Chile by placing a woman as our Head of State, a new generation will grow up with an altered view of what a woman can do.

When women take on leadership roles, the way women are perceived and talked about changes. In just the last half-century, the way women are discussed in the media has changed dramatically. Because we are now seeing more women as senators and governors who are endeavoring to create laws that improve the lives of women, the public is beginning to  perceive them in a different way than the Baby Boomer generation did. Unfortunately (for now), I can only imagine the discourse of a generation that grew up with a woman in the Oval Office.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stress Management Tests

Many people in today’s fast-paced environment feel stressed. People are so over-scheduled and challenged with trying to balance activities and responsibilities that they forget to take care of themselves. Those caught up in such a fast-paced, stressful lives and who are not managing the stress of their lifestyles, may find themselves experiencing  job burn-out and falling victim to stress-related illnesses. Learning about stress and stress management tests is the first step to coping with stressors.

What is Stress?

Stress is the body’s response to the pressures and demands of our environment. Stress can stem from pressure at work or from problems, worries, and concerns at home and with friends and family.  Regardless of the source of stress, the result can be both an external response that has a profound physical effect and an internal interpretation that reflects varying personalities and has an effect on emotional well-being.

What are the Symptoms and Effects of Stress?

Stress can be caused by any environmental demands or pressures that threaten one’s coping strategies. A certain amount of stress is a normal part of life. However, excessive stress for prolonged periods of time is the kind of stress that has negative impact on one’s physical and emotional health. 

Stress symptoms can take both physical and psychological forms. Stress can contribute to severe and chronic headaches, muscle tension in the neck and back, irritable bowel syndrome, weight loss, and even heart attacks. Psychological or emotional illness from stress results from the inability to cope with life demands and life changes. Such stress can result in nervous conditions, anxiety and depression.

What is the Treatment for Stress-Related Disorders? 

Treatment for stress may include anxiety medication, tranquilizers, and antidepressants. Additional treatment approaches include meditation and relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, as well as regular exercise. Massage therapy is frequently recommended to relieve the muscle tension that accompanies stress. Cognitive therapy is sometimes prescribed to help stressed individuals learn to reinterpret the stressors in their lives and better cope with them. Stress management programs effectively help evaluate the sources of stress and often focus more on job related sources of stress.

How Can One Determine if He or She is Stressed?

Doctors can determine if a patient is overly stressed by taking a history of the patient’s personal stressors and by evaluating the patient’s personality. There are personality and psychological tests that primary care physicians, psychologists or psychiatrists can use to determine the amount of stress a patient is experiencing and how well they are able to cope. In addition, people who suspect they are overly stressed can locate and take similar personality and stress tests themselves without the assistance or supervision of a doctor.

What are Stress Management Tests?

Stress management tests are personality tests and self-assessment resources that help one better understand the role stress plays in his or her life. Understanding such factors is the first step to handling a stressful life.

How Can One Determine the Validity of Stress Management Tests?

In order to determine the validity of a stress test one must first understand the kinds of stress tests and what they are designed to do. The most common stress test is the simple pen and paper test which asks questions designed to determine where a person is in life, what one does, and what troubling concerns one has. There are many stress tests available in books, magazines and on the Internet. Some are useful and some not so useful because of being subjective. There are valid and useful stress tests one can take, and one’s doctor can assist in locating reliable ones.

Where Can Stress Management Tests Be Found? 

Anyone wanting to take a reliable personality or stress test can consult his or her physician for valid tests to take. There are many tests on the Internet that are reliable. There are multiple reliable self-tests offered in articles on One is called “Personality Tests for Stress Relief”. The other is called “Stress Tests / Personality Tests / Stress Assessment”.  Those stress test resources, as well as other website links to online stress tests, are listed in the Resources section of this article.

How Can One Reduce Stress?

Once the stress test has been taken to determine the level of stress and the coping abilities, one should try to reduce stress and stressors. Stress management techniques may include self-hypnosis or guided imagery to get into a relaxed state, journaling thoughts and ideas, meditation and Yoga, deep breathing exercises, cardio and strength-training exercises, music therapy, aroma therapy, eating a healthy diet, and practicing time management skills. Stress can be conquered if one attempts to identify it, understand it, and manage it. Henry David Thoreau summed it up most  aptly in saying, “In the long run, men only hit what they aim at.”

An Invitation to Readers of Water Cooler Wisdom Blog

I am the author of three award-winning children's books that aim to advocate for the well-being, education, and entertainment of children. The books include What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World Strangers (published by Headline Books, Inc.), Scary Ghosts and Playful Ghosts: Children's Tales of Fright and Delight (published by Crimson Cloak Publishing), and The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale (published by Write Solution Ink).
Purchase information for these books can be accessed via my Amazon Author Page.

Readers may also access book information, as well as useful information and resources that advocate for the education, well-being and entertainment of children by visiting my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books.