Sunday, March 19, 2017

Motives: I Can't Keep Quiet

The following is the blog post to accompany our March radio show, “Schmidt Happens,” which was recorded March 12, 2017, and first aired Saturday night March 19, 2017 on WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston, hosted by Jumana Hashim and Rosemary Schmidt.

Audio Link via SoundCloud:

Preface:  When we started planning the March show, we again had to decide whether “to do or not to do” politics again. We have a long list of others topics we would like to pick up again someday. We never envisioned that politics would be such a central theme in the show, but we have found it equally hard not to talk about it. Neither did we ever expect we would need to march for, support, and defend things like science, art, education, healthcare, immigrants, and democracy. We speak and write purely on topics of public concern; never seditious; but strictly out of the primacy of the concern for the health and very future of our democracy. We are not the first to voice many of these thoughts and ideas, but we have tried to package up the references and stitch these ideas together to tell a cogent story for the reader.

So many of the past blogs and radio shows have focused on politics, we thought we would try to talk about something else, anything else – movies, culture, sports. As a matter of fact, we had both just recently seen the movie, “The Wrath of Khan,” plus the Q&A afterwards with George Takei (aka Mr. Sulu) at the Boch Wang Center.
[Spoiler Alert, in case you haven’t seen it yet. Check out the last blog for a full report!]

In addition to all the retro sci-fi stuff, the space explorers were doing research on something called the Genesis Project, that would totally re-populate a planet with new life when deployed. Or, if it fell into the hands of someone evil, like Khan (played by Ricardo Montalban), it could be used on a planet that was already populated, say, such as Earth, in which case it would decimate any existing life forms. In the words that Spock spoke:

“As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”

As I was sitting in the darkened theater, who did this make me think of again, but Steve Bannon!

Again, we found ourselves immersed back in politics. It’s funny that in the last show, where we explored possible alternative theories for all the chaos in Washington, we thought we had been pretty creative, but we hadn’t even thought of Russia! I wonder if we will ever really know precisely to what degree Russia influenced or interfered with the 2016 election, or whether they acted alone or in cooperation with the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, we continue to try to make sense of what’s coming out of the White House. Is it all random and unplanned, or are we being played? Did President Trump tweet his allegations that President Obama tapped his phone lines at Trump Tower just to distract and divert us from the chain of news stories linking Trump’s campaign to Russia? It’s so hard to figure out what’s really going on behind the scenes just based on what we see, the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

In the same way, anyone watching a rugby game, not knowing the rules or how the game is played, would have a hard time figuring out what the players were intending to do, based on what they saw the players actually doing on the field, let alone whether or not they had game plan.

The one thing that many journalists and political observers have determined is that the White House probably isn’t working together as a team. For example, see Annie Linskey’s article, “Warring West Wing factions dismay management experts” (The Boston Globe, February 18, 2017).


There is the concept in business of setting up rival teams, which could be beneficial, in terms of gaining multiple varied perspectives, and avoiding uniformity of thought, if they were all working towards the same goal. Theoretically, all of the staff in the White House are highly accomplished, skilled, highly capable, competent professionals. Just as in sports, sometimes a team of all-stars will not perform as well as a team of players having lesser talent individually, but who have chemistry, and perhaps years of experience working together as a team. Given the amount of chaos emanating from the White House on a daily basis, they don’t seem to be working as a team, or at least from the same play book. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re playing the same sport!

If that’s the case, maybe we should look at each individual player to see what their end game might be; what makes them tick; what fundamental motives drive them. I guess this would be the alternative theory that each person individually is doing just what they genuinely believe is right, and what’s best for the nation.

Let’s start with Steve Bannon. Given his penchant for deconstructing things, a la the Genesis Project, maybe he really believes in his heart of hearts that everything in Government has gotten too big and complicated. He wouldn’t be the first to think this. All of this talk of deconstruction made me think of a book I read back in the 90’s, called Demosclerosis, written by Jonathan Rauch, published in 1994. The title is a little bit of a play on words, bouncing off the term for clogged and hardened arteries, atherosclerosis. The concept is that only new laws and agencies get added to Government as time goes on. Things only become increasingly more complex and entrenched, as things are added sequentially in response to new situations and problems, building up like barnacles on a boat. When is the last time you saw a law come off the books, and go away? Or, for that matter, an entire agency?

[Ironic side note: When I pointed this out I was thinking of one of the first Executive Orders that rolled out the first or second week, mandating that for every new regulation, agencies would have to eliminate two existing ones. The very next day after taping the show, the President issued a new Executive Order mandating the re-organization of the Executive Branch, including the elimination of redundant or unneeded agencies. The President’s budget unveiled Thursday March 16, 2017, with its deep cuts to some departments and agencies would effectively cut their legs out from under them. Even if they continued to exist, they would not have the funding to continue their work at the same level as in the past.]

So, perhaps Steve Bannon is just really intent on streamlining Government, but based on the articles I’ve read about him so far, and the extraordinary degree of influence he seems to have within the White House, it seems like there is a lot more going on there. We’ll pick this up another day, another time.

What about Donald Trump? Why did he want to become President? What would he hope to achieve once elected? When did he first ever even remotely consider the idea of running for President? He was a successful businessman. He didn’t need this.

I believe the seeds were sown for his presidency at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. When you watch the tape, you realize how deeply he was mocked, and it cut him right to the core. Someone said they’d heard that if he ran for President, he would run as a Republican, but in fact his run would be as a joke. Everyone laughed, in the classic sense, “at him, not with him,” in an unkind way. Everyone laughed, except for Donald Trump. He was singled out, and his dignity was violated. The concept of “dignity violations” and their impact are a topic of a book by Dr. Donna Hicks, a researcher at Harvard, and expert at international conflict resolution. She literally wrote the book on dignity. Every human has basic needs, to feel valued, to belong, and to be included. When Trump was attacked, he was made to feel a complete outsider.

My theory is that it comes down to the distinction between Different and Differences; the difference between simply having differences and being completely different. I first thought about this after the Columbine tragedy. Not forgiving the perpetrators in any way, but simply seeking to understand. If people simply have differences, we can celebrate diversity, and yet still, share some core commonality. If someone is viewed as completely different, foreign, or ‘the other,’ then we lose the possibility for finding some common ground. We lose the possibility for “Namaste;” the yoga/Buddhist term that loosely translates to “the light in me honors the light in you.” We cannot see the light in others. The two young men who carried out the Columbine shooting were also mocked, and treated as complete outsiders. Their hurt, pain and anger were externalized and manifested into violence against others.

Maybe Trump’s drive to win the White House arose in reaction to being mocked, and he has channeled that anger and pain in lashing out at those who hurt him the most, such as the ‘evil media’ and the liberal elite.

Inclusion and validation matter.

Ironically, there was a study that just came out in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showing a link between legalization of same-sex marriage and a drop in teen suicide attempts, specifically in LGBTQ youth. It makes sense that this public validation might give these youth hope, that a full and happy life might be possible. After all, what is suicide, but the loss of hope? In the case of suicide, these feelings of not belonging, not being valued, and being treated as an outsider get internalized and translated into violence against the self.

This is why the inclusion of the OutVets group in today’s Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade matters. Inclusion matters. Everyone wants to belong and feel valued.

And President Trump is no different. He seeks validation, belonging, and attention, just like everyone else. To quote John Turrant:

“Attention is the most basic form of love; through it we bless and we are blessed.”

By this measure, Trump’s presidency is succeeding wildly! He is in the news daily. This leaves us with a horrible dilemma: to give or not to give Trump attention. If attention is what he craves, are we making a mistake by constantly giving it to him, with all our marches and rallies? And blogs and radio shows?

Should we not be giving him all this attention?

Should we stand by and just be silent?

I don’t think so, I don’t think I can do that either.

I can’t keep quiet.

Mark your calendars:
April 8 is #ICantKeepQuiet Day. Stay tuned, maybe there will be a flash mob near you.
April 22 is the March for Science in Boston Common.

We opened the show with a few chords on my guitar, an abbreviated and ‘transformative interpretation’ of “I Can’t Keep Quiet,” by Milck. I forgot to even mention that this was the song I had played, and it may not have been very recognizable, the way I played it. We were actually quiet on a number of things we could have talked about, such as International Women’s Day on March 8 and the #DayWithoutWomen movement that encouraged women to take the day off to show the impact of women in the world. I had mixed feelings from the start, as it also spoke of the gap between the privileged women who could afford to take the day off, and those who might risk losing their jobs for not showing up to work. Plus, I think I may have more of an impact when I show up. Democracy is all about showing up, right? As it turned out, I showed everybody. I took not one, not two, but three days off work that week, thanks only to a migraine and a sore throat. By the end of the week, I was just happy to have #ADayWithoutAMigraine!

Thank you once again to George Takei and the Boch Wang Center for the complimentary tickets to the show.

Props to Jumana for bringing the radio show full circle, weaving the question at the end of the show to the song at the intro. Do we let Trump take over our lives and permeate our every waking moment? It’s exhausting. There’s a fatigue factor. And yet, to not stay tuned in doesn’t seem right either. It’s probably okay, and maybe even necessary to take a mental health break now and then. Go to an art museum. Ponder the timeless. Sing. Play a musical instrument. Watch some TV: “This Is Us,” “The Good Place,” or even “The Crown.” And then come back to the present. This is a marathon.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, when the Executive Orders started rolling out, especially the ones regarding immigrants, I remember seeing a particularly poignant tweet: “Remember sitting in High School history class wondering what you would have done as Hitler rose to power. What you are doing now is what you would have done then.” Maybe things aren’t quite that dark yet, but it is a slippery slope.

Here we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and the contributions of another immigrant group to American culture. The Irish Prime Minister delivered a stirring (stinging?) speech during his visit to the White House on Thursday, noting that the Irish immigrants to America also “were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore.”

Happy (Belated) St. Patrick’s Day everybody!


Coming Soon:

·         April 5 – Pacific Overtures opens on Broadway

·         April 8 – I Can’t Be Quiet, announced by Milck

·         April 22 – March for Science, 2 to 4 PM, Boston Common. Better get started knitting your green and/or blue caps! I have to believe the March for the Arts can’t be far behind, right?

·         HUBweek 2017 in Boston, various locations, October 8 – 15, 2017

·         Walk For Education, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), October 14, 2017


About WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston & Schmidt Happens:
WBCA is a community radio station sponsored by the Boston Neighborhood Network, and is on the air from 6 PM to 2 AM each night.

Radio Beantown is on the air! Jumana Hashim is a current member of Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, while Rosemary, aka Rosebud, Schmidt has been retired a few years.  

Beantown’s season opens soon! Check out for more details. First game is at Providence Saturday March 25th, B-side will play Northeastern University.
Go Forward, Support!

Song For The Day:
“I Can’t Keep Quiet,” of course, by Milck. This is my favorite version of it, taped on the fly, so spontaneous and heartfelt, during the Women’s March in January.


Abrahams, Yvonne. 2017. Our Chance to Write History. The Boston Globe. February 5, 2017.

Begley, Sharon. 2017. How Psychology Makes Sense of Trump’s Conspiracy Theories. Stat News. March 8, 2017.

Caldwell, Christopher. 2017. What Does Steve Bannon Want? The New York Times. February 25, 2017.

Dennis, Brady. 2017. Acting EPA head: Hiring freeze challenges ‘our ability to get the agency’s work done.’ The Washington Post. 15 February 2017.

Fuentes, Jake. 2017. The Immigration Ban is a Headfake, And We’re Falling For It. A Medium Corporation. 30 January 2017.

Guarino, Ben. 2017. Legalizing same-sex marriage was associated with fewer youth suicide attempts, new study finds. The Washington Post. February 21, 2017.

Hess, Amanda. 2017. How a Fractious Women’s Movement Came to Lead the Left. The New York Times Magazine. 7 February 2017.

Hicks, Donna. 2011. Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict. Yale University Press.

Kurtzleben, Danielle. 2017. Just Because a Bill is Long Doesn’t Mean It’s Bad. National Public Radio. March 11, 2017.

Linskey, Annie. 2017. Warring West Wing factions dismay management experts. The Boston Globe. 18 February 2017.

Lizza, Ryan. 2017. Can Steve Bannon Save TrumpCare? The New Yorker. March 17, 2017.

Lopez, German. 2017. Watch Ireland’s prime minister bash Trump’s anti-immigration views just feet away from Trump. Vox. March 17, 2017.

Marano, Hara Estroff. 2017. Shrinks Battle Over Diagnosing Donald Trump. Psychology Today. January 31, 2017.

Packer, George. 2017. Official Duties; or Holding Trump Accountable. The New Yorker. February 27, 2017.

“If Trump were more rational and more competent, he might have a chance of destroying our democracy.”

Pillalamarri, Akhilesh. 2017. Steve Bannon, Dharma Warrior: Hindu Scriptures and the Worldview of Trump’s Chief Ideologue. The Diplomat. February 3, 2017.

Raifman, Julia; Ellen Moscoe, Ellen, and Bryn Austin. 2017. Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts. JAMA Pediatrics, published online February 20, 2017. Doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4529

Radosh, Ronald. 2016. Steve Bannon, Trump’s Top Guy, Told Me He Was ‘A Leninist’ Who Wants to ‘Destroy the State.’ The Daily Beast. 22 August 2016.

Rauch, Jonathan. 1994. Demosclerosis: The Silent Killer of American Government. New York: Perseus Books Group.

Rubin, Jennifer. 2017. Bannon and Trump are out for Revenge. The Washington Post. February 24, 2017.

Rucker, Philip, and Robert Costa. 2017. Bannon vows a daily fight for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state. The Washington Post. February 23, 2017.

Sword, Rosemary K. M., and Philip Zimbardo, PhD. 2017. The Elephant in the Room: It’s Time We Talked Openly about Donald Trump’s Mental Health. Psychology Today. February 28, 2017.

Takei, George. 2017. How ‘America First’ puts many of us last. USA Today. 15 February 2017.

Trump, Donald J. 2017. Presidential Executive Order on a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch. March 13, 2017.

Wu, Tim. 2017. How Donald Trump Wins By Losing. The New York Times. March 3, 2017.

© 2017 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me. Twitter: Rosebud@GainlineRS

Radio Broadcast © 2017 Jumana Hashim and Rosemary Schmidt. For permission to re-print or re-broadcast the radio shows, please contact the radio hosts and/or WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston for permission. The views expressed in the radio broadcast are those of the hosts, and not any other agency, entity or organization. Every effort has been made to give proper credits and citations for material quoted/cited. Any errors or omissions are not intentional and every effort will be made to make corrections as soon as they are brought to our attention.


Mission Statement: To Educate, Inform, Entertain, Inspire, and Open Minds. (E.I.E.I.O.M.)



Sunday, March 5, 2017

George Takei – Oh My! He’s Everywhere!

The March radio show of “Schmidt Happens” is still in the works; stay tuned for air dates. All on WBCA-LP 102.9 Boston, your Community Radio Station.
Ironically, quite coincidentally, just after taping the January radio show on Democracy, where Ellen threw in the George Takei quote, we learned that George Takei himself was coming to Boston, for a Q & A session at the Boch Wang Center Friday night, February 3, 2017.

First we were treated to a complete showing of the second Star Trek movie, “The Wrath of Khan,” released in 1982. “How quaint,” I remember thinking, “they’re still using flip phones.” Oh, wait a minute, how prescient they were, to have imagined flip phones more than ten years before they were invented and marketed! As it has been said, sometimes art imitates life, and this time perhaps technology imitated art.

I was struck by a number of lines from the movie that are still relevant today:

“As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy than to create.”
“Scientists have always been the pawns of the military.”
“Just words, but that’s where ideas come from.”

A question and answer session with George Takei followed after the movie, running the gamut, from Star Trek, to being gay and closeted in Hollywood, to recalling his childhood experience being interned with his family during World War II, and his life as an activist, especially in light of recent events, while balancing his public life with his private life with husband, Brad, who was also in the audience. Some of the highlights follow.

George Takei observed that although the Starfleet was supposed to be a meritocracy, he got so frustrated that year after year, movie after movie, his character, Sulu, remained at the console. “I was always an activist,” he said, in his life, for his career, and for his character. “When I saw the script for movie six,” where Sulu was finally promoted to Captain, “I was over the moon.”

He donated the Sulu costume to the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles. Later, a docent commented to him, “We’re getting a lot of Trekkies here. I didn’t know they were so interested in the Japanese-American experience.” George had to chuckle.

He spoke warmly of Boston native Leonard Nimoy, and saw him as the voice of conscience on the show. Boston has always held a special place in his heart as well.

He talked about being closeted most of his life, in order to work. He seldom went to bars, but one time he went into one, and quite by chance, ran into Merrick Buttrick, the actor who played Captain Kirk’s son in the movie we had just watched. They sort of acknowledged each other, but didn’t speak. He spoke admiringly of Merrick’s talents as an actor, and of his perseverance and courage later, performing on Broadway, playing a gay man dying from AIDS, while Merrick himself was also in actuality suffering from AIDS. I guess this would be a case of life imitating art, imitating life. It also struck me, the irony – or foreshadowing, or great prescience – of the line his character spoke in the movie:

“How you face death is as important as how you face life.”

George Takei spoke of how Star Trek pushed the limits in its day. For example, they aired the first black-white kiss on television and “got into real trouble.” It was one of their first seasons. Some stations in the South refused to air it. George had lobbied with Gene Rodenberry to push the envelope even further, by adding a gay character. Gene told him they were “walking a tight rope.” They had almost gotten canceled. “We have to stay on the air to tell the stories we want to,” he told George. It’s interesting to think about how so many viewers at the time saw Star Trek as simply just a science fiction fantasy series, when it was really just the medium for telling these allegorical tales about society, human nature, culture, civil rights, and justice. We are all now hoping that these themes themself do not disappear and become merely a fantasy in our current environment.

In the run-up to the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, George Takei heard that as a tribute to him, they were making Mr. Sulu gay. He tried to convince the writers that the anniversary “shouldn’t be about me, but should be about Gene Rodenberry, and his vision and determination to tell these stories, and honor his creations.” He urged the writers to create a new character, and “be as creative as Gene was, as imaginative as Gene was.” In the end, they still made Mr. Sulu gay.

George Takei has been a regular host on the Howard Stern radio show, which might seem incongruous, but he explained his reasoning. He realized that most of his LGBT activism and talks had been made for and to the LGBT audience, yet “we need to get the message to the middle; show them that we’re family; their sons and daughters.” This echoed some of my earlier thoughts immediately after the election, when I was trying to understand the election results and how demographics played into it. The cities are full of the sons and daughters of Middle America, who left their small towns and fled to the cities, to become the people they would become.

He also commented on his experience as a Japanese American. He was a small child when his family was taken away to an internment camp during World War II. February 19th marked the 75-year anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signing the Executive Order requiring that all Japanese-American citizens be rounded up and imprisoned in camps. This eerily echoed the most recent travel ban Executive Order that President Trump had just signed on Friday January 27, with the same kind of mentality, and even more ironically, on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The musical, “Allegiance,” was partially based on and inspired by George Takei’s childhood experience at an internment camp, and he performed in the Broadway production of it. In honor of the anniversary, the movie version of Allegiance was screened at 600 theaters across the country on February 19.

When asked about what he thought his greatest accomplishment was, he turned it into a question about what’s next, saying he still “has more worlds to discover.”

George Takei will be performing in the musical, “Pacific Overtures,” opening on Broadway at the Classic Stage Company Theater, starting April 5, 2017. He will also be celebrating his 80th birthday later that same month. He is clearly following Mr. Spock’s Vulcan greeting:

“Live long and prosper.”

Ironically, this salutation and the signature V-hand symbol originated from his friend, Leonard Nimoy, inspired by a Jewish prayer service he attended in his youth.

First, thank you to George Takei and the Boch Wang Center for the complimentary tickets to the show. While we weren’t able to fit in an interview this time, our offer stands, and you have an open invitation to join us on the show any time you are in town.

File under “Damn You Auto-Correct” – In the e-mail from George Takei’s media contact, I had to laugh when I saw the venue referred to as the “Bosch Wang.” Alas.

As we made our way to the show, we weighed our dinner options, and while we could have gone to the Panera, a very good choice, with the nice turkey chili and pecan rolls, my faves, but in honor of Mr. Takei we opted to dine at Genki Ya, the Japanese restaurant at the corner of Tremont and Stuart. Quite fitting, perfect choice, and wonderfully tasty miso soup, seaweed salad, noodle dish, and of course sushi.

While most of the audience appeared to be Star Trek fans, I have to confess I had never seen the movie, “Wrath of Khan,” before. Or any of the other twelve Star Trek movies, for that matter. I must be living under a rock, as I was also completely unaware of Mr. Takei’s signature exclamation, “Oh my!” It apparently originated during an interview on Howard Stern’s radio show. So literally, within the span of a few weeks, I went from having almost no awareness of George Takei, to be being surrounded by him, first with the quote about democracy, and then the show in town, and then, there he was on the Domino’s Pizza commercial during the Super Bowl. Oh my! He’s everywhere!

And, how about that miracle comeback by the Patriots? It ranks right up there with the Cubs’ improbable comeback, and victory in Game 7, rain delay and all. Going into the fourth quarter, just for the record, I said it: “It’s still possible. We need three scores in 15 minutes, one every five minutes. That’s doable. It’s still in the future, it hasn’t happened yet, and so it is still possible.” Certainly, this year has been a series of unexpected, improbable events, which would include the election results in November.

A return to trying to make sense of what is happening at the White House, with possibly a reference back to the “Wrath of Khan.”

Coming Soon:
·         March 8 – A Day Without A Woman
·         April 8 – I Can’t Be Quiet, announced by Milck
·         April 5 – Pacific Overtures opens on Broadway
·         April 22 – March for Science, 2 to 4 PM, Boston Common

·         I have to believe the March for the Arts can’t be far behind, right?
·         HUBweek 2017 in Boston, various locations, October 8 – 15, 2017
·         Walk For Education, UNCF, October 14, 2017

About WBCA-LP 102.9 FM Boston & Schmidt Happens:
WBCA is a low-power FM radio station sponsored by the Boston Neighborhood Network, and is on the air from 6 PM to 2 AM each night.

Radio Beantown is on the air! Jumana Hashim is a current member of Beantown Women’s Rugby Club, while Rosemary, aka Rosebud, Schmidt has been retired a few years.  

Beantown practice has started! Check out for more details. No experience necessary; a place for everybody, literally for every body. All are welcome. Go Forward, Support!

Song For The Day:
From Jason Mraz again, this time “93 Million Miles,” which just seemed to bridge all the topics, from Star Trek, space the final frontier, to the upcoming March for Science, and our fundamental yearning for light, love, and home.

A few pics from when Jason Mraz performed at the Bosch Wang Center a couple of years ago.

Ohlheiser, Abby. 2015. The Jewish roots of Leonard Nimoy and ‘live long and prosper.’ The Washington Post. 27 February 2015.

© 2017 Rosemary A. Schmidt
Rose Schmidt is the author of “Go Forward, Support! The Rugby of Life” (Gainline Press 2004). The views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the views of any other agency or organization. Use of individual quotes with proper citation and attribution, within the limits of fair use, is permitted. If you would like to request permission to use or reprint any of the content on the site, please contact me.

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P.O. Box 1166, Watertown, MA 02471