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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump World--Can we please go back to a different future?

I’m trying to move past hysteria, depression and anger over the election. Focus on Thanksgiving, I tell myself. Focus on the turkey. Or write about concerts, shopping, other topics. After all, I said this blog was to be about the amusing things of life with only an occasional burst of seriosity. But I’m having trouble finding the usual things amusing.

Why this sense of doom? After all, our nation has survived many things: terrorist attacks, ill-thought-out wars, outrageous wrong-doings by our chief executive, assassinations, and dangerously ill-informed Presidents. No doubt some previous Presidents were narcissists and money-grubbing.

But this is somehow different. Never before have we teetered into banana-republic, alternate time-line reality. Biff Tannen has been elected President in “Back to the Future 4.0”. Trump is just as grabby, greedy, and dangerous as Biff only somehow this is real life.

The broken promises to Trump supporters are almost too numerous to name. Trump acknowledges there is a connection between human activity and climate change. Bringing back coal, torture of suspects or lost American manufacturing jobs are all pretty much the things dreams (or in some cases, nightmares) and campaign promises are made of. So why am I not reassured?

And as for all those chants of “lock her up”? Those were reality TV theater. Trump commonly called Hillary crooked. But he now admits he has no plans to prosecute Hillary. I should be satisfied.

But there never were any grounds to lock up Hillary. She has been investigated as extensively as any public figure and no criminal acts were ever found.  So, the dropping of that campaign promise is surprising only in its rapidity. The real reason the “lock her up” promise has been dropped like a hot potato is Hillary’s alleged wrongdoing is so miniscule compared to the crookedness of all things Trump.

Not just America but the whole world is up for grabs as Trump begins to stamp his giant Trump logo everywhere.

The campaign promises have fallen with record-breaking speed by the way side. But what is really scary is that Trump’s world view and policy positions are as thin as his skin. Whatever he has heard most recently is what he’s planning to do next. Whomever he’s speaking to now is whom he agrees with. If he’s at the NY Times, they are a jewel of a newspaper. Well that’s just fine. Until he goes back and talks to the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-gay and otherwise hate-filled advisers he’s selected.

Trump is not yet President and already we have a daily competition to see what is the worst to spew from the Trump carnival.

The Trumpster has an amazing ability. He creates so many controversies that the talking heads and pundits are issuing statements about how many positions Trump has flipped on in the last twenty-four hours. Which of the disasters are real (the conflicts of interest) and which are just sleight of hand and a distraction (twitter battles with the cast of “Hamilton” and the New York Times).

Meanwhile Trump brags the value of his brand has greatly increased since the election. The Trump “charity” admits to the IRS its self-dealing and violations. Trump easily makes time while selecting a Cabinet to meet with foreign dignitaries and ask for special deals for his investments.

Trump has no fears. He will be President so no one can do anything about his conflicts of interest. In fact, he declares, much like Nixon, that as President he cannot break the law or have conflicts. That is what one would expect from Biff. Or the “President” of a banana republic.

You wanted our infrastructure rebuilt? That is one of the main functions of government. The Republicans refused to fund it under Obama. Under Trump get ready for infrastructure re-building. That is, if you want to privatize that infrastructure and slap tolls on America so Trump’s family and cronies can start collecting double-digit returns on investment at our expense.

I just can’t stomach the idea of our roads, bridges and airports bearing a big Trump logo as we pay our tolls to the Trump Enterprise to enter public spaces. Can you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

As Thanksgiving approaches I am sharing an excerpt from an essay I wrote on a Thanksgiving some years ago. 

The Thanksgiving holiday is all about the turkey.  Perhaps a football game or two and a little holiday shopping.  Well, actually, for some people the shopping is more of a competitive sport than the all-day football games on TV. 

But here it is Thanksgiving and my turkey is in another town.  No, I am not stranded at the airport due to weather or holiday crowds.  Rather, we were going to drive to my Mom’s house for our turkey dinner and instead have found ourselves quarantined at home, 290 miles from our turkey dinner.

To fully understand the situation I must digress a bit. Actually, all the way back to our childhoods. My husband is an only child and I am an only daughter.  Neither of us learned to cook with a lot of other people “helping” in the kitchen, so we seldom cook meals together.  But on Thanksgiving, after 30 plus years of marriage, my spouse and I have finally reached a truce and choreographed the holiday meal to an art form.  Early in the day, I get the turkey ready, stuffed, and in the oven. 

Early afternoon, my husband begins his elaborate preparations of  side dishes that bake for at least an hour, most courtesy of Shaker recipes or Jeff Smith’s Frugal Gourmet: corn pudding, sweet potatoes baked in maple syrup, and baked apples.  After he has lovingly nestled his gourmet creations in the oven, I then prepare broccoli casserole (also courtesy of a “Shaker” recipe, though I am jarred by the image of the Shakers driving in horse-drawn carriages to market for Velveeta cheese food and Ritz crackers), potatoes, and gravy. 

This year, though, there is no turkey, not a small roasting chicken, or even a Cornish hen in our house.  Since we were not planning on being home for Thanksgiving.  Instead we had planned on driving on Thanksgiving Day to Mom’s home some four and a half hours away.  As a result of those travel plans and Mom’s ill health, for the first time, instead of our usual holiday cooking routine, somewhat reluctantly I had ordered a turkey dinner already fully prepared.  This is likely to be Mom’s last Thanksgiving, so I went a bit overboard and ordered an elaborate, take-out feast which Mom’s care-giver has picked up and planned to heat and serve today.

Mom has had little appetite after completing five weeks of radiation for a tumor discovered several months ago.  Even though Mom is not likely to eat much of the turkey dinner, I had hoped that she would at least enjoy the sight of a plump, baked bird on her dining room table, and that feast, shared by family, would lift her spirits.

Unfortunately, my husband and I aren’t able to be at that table today.  He came down with the old-fashioned stomach flu on Thanksgiving Eve.  A result of a virus, no doubt, but one that seems almost unpatriotic in its timing at the start of shopping and gluttony season.  I, on the other hand, though not (yet) affected by the stomach bug, instead am suffering from a longer term, gastro-intestinal ailment that appears to be tracking Mom’s decline in health.

Thus, the absence of a turkey at our house this year is not a loss we particularly miss except, perhaps, in the abstract. Furthermore, according to the morning newspaper, most Americans gain five pounds over the holiday season.  The risks of over-eating, even in a single meal were laid out like the proverbial buffet: heart attack, stroke, gall stone attacks, not to mention old-fashioned heartburn and gastric distress.  We will count ourselves lucky to be sidestepping these risks as, we pick sedately at scrambled eggs, no toast for me on the chance my tummy upset is gluten sensitivity activated by stress. 

As it turned out that was my Mom’s last Thanksgiving.  She never rebounded after the radiation, but instead lingered for many months as her life spirit and her strength receded.  My brother and I spent much of that time with her.  Only belatedly did we think to play for her some of the music she had so enjoyed.  Nevertheless, I like to think that even in her coma-like state she heard and enjoyed some of the old Nat King Cole songs she had played on the piano in her younger days. 

During my Mother’s final months I developed celiac, a disease associated with a severe reaction to wheat and gluten. Celiac occurs as a result of a genetic predisposition, and can be activated by physical or mental stress.  Luckily, our son’s in-laws assure me they are happy to serve a gluten- free turkey dinner.  

It has taken me awhile to realize Thanksgiving is not at all about the turkey.  Or even the football and shopping.  Rather, it’s about family, however you might define them, and good friends.  And it’s for giving thanks for them, however far flung or distant they might now be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Welcome to Trump World

You were tired of business as usual. You wanted someone who could blow up Washington. An outsider who didn’t know anything about government or politics. Who couldn’t pass a fifth-grade civics test. So, you voted for Trump. Overnight, the markets have crashed. Not just the U.S. stock markets but around the world. Welcome to Trump World.

 You were tired of political correctness. You wanted someone who said what you sometimes think about people who are different than you. The President-Elect, as a reality TV show host and self-proclaimed billionaire, is a man who has bragged about being able to assault women with impunity, who has incited violence at his rallies, mocked a disabled reporter, said he will bar whole groups of people because of their religions and is embraced by racists (who prefer the politically correct title alt-right) as one of their own. Do you think you will be able to let your children or grandchildren watch the TV news without their minds being polluted by the evil and hatred you have let loose? Welcome to Trump World.

You hoped that Trump would bring his gold-plated business magic to government and your lives? A man who stiffed his contractors. Declared bankruptcy in his business dealings so many times we’ve lost count. A man who cheated so big on his taxes that he ignored his own lawyers’ advice and took a tax write off for almost a billion dollars—of other people’s money—to avoid paying taxes for a couple of decades. Do you think he will fix the problems in this country? With the stock market dropping to historic lows just at the news of his election. Welcome to Trump World.

You liked Trump’s brash “tell it like it is”, take no prisoners, me-first approach to life and business. Marry foreign supermodels. When the first one gets to be a little old—35 is The Donald’s age cut off for wives—cheat on her and then import another. Shall we all try his approach--think about ourselves first and only—not pay our bills until we are sued and then try to whittle down the debts to cents on the dollar? Treat women as disposable. Everyone else is just a thing, not a real person. It worked for The Donald, why not me? I guess that’s the new business and personal standard. Welcome to Trump World.

You couldn’t vote for Hillary because you’ve heard she is corrupt. Trump said she is a criminal. So, it must be true. It doesn’t matter that she has been investigated more than any other politician and cleared of wrong doing. Trump is a man who is involved in more than 4,000 lawsuits in the last three decades, more than anyone who has ever run for President. He goes to trial this month on fraud charges related to Trump University. He’s been accused by multiple women of sexual assault as well as the rape of a 13-year-old. He’s admitted, in appalling language, recorded on tape, to thinking he can get away scot free with assaulting women. His Presidency could be totally consumed with his private lawsuits. That’s not even considering his conflicts of interest which he has refused to disclose or divest himself of in a blind trust. Trump doesn’t even seem to know what a blind trust is. He says he’ll let his children handle his interests. Let’s talk about real corruption. Welcome to Trump World.

You didn’t think Hillary Clinton, a woman who has worked for other people’s welfare for most of her life, was quite likable enough to get your vote. So, you voted for the guy who trash talked minorities, Muslims, foreigners, and women at his rallies, menaced and threatened to throw his opponent in jail at his Presidential debates. Who incited his followers to violence. If that’s your idea of niceness, welcome to Trump World.

You don’t like to think about climate change. You’d rather vote for The Donald and keep your heads in the sand. Trump says climate change is a hoax constructed by the Chinese. The Donald will get us out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Well, I hope you pull your head out of the sand long enough to learn to tread water or run for higher ground as the oceans continue their dramatic rise because of melting ice caps. Just because The Donald says there’s no climate change doesn’t mean Trump World won’t flood.

I’m angry and I’m sad. You, America, have elected the most vile, most unprepared, most deplorable con man in the history of our nation to our highest office. And you’ve given him a majority in both houses of Congress. Welcome to Trump World, indeed.