Monthly Archives: July 2017

The End Is Overdue

With each passing day, the Trump debacle becomes more worrisome even as it gets closer to imploding.  I spend far too much time thinking and worrying about it.  Recently, an idea occurred to me that seems so obvious that I had to wonder why no one has been discussing it.  (Conceivably I could have missed an opinion piece covering this topic, but, believe me, I read and watch a lot – A LOT, altogether TOO MUCH – of news reports about the current state of affairs in a variety of mediums, none of which qualifies as “fake news” in my book, although it certainly would for Trump and his herd.)  My idea is this:  By any measure, Trump is a narcissistic ignoramus, a serious peril to the people and perception of the United States, who denigrates the traditional American image and wreaks havoc on our global interests every time he opens his disgusting, petty little mouth or sends a misguided tweet with his stubby, uncalloused  little fingers.  So, why are the Republicans so intent on keeping him around?  If Trump were removed from office somehow (and in all likelihood the Republicans will have to be the ones to do it via impeachment, hopefully in the very near future), a conservative Republican would be the next in line, for as far down the line as we might end up going.

First up would be Mike Pence, although in my estimation he is also a dangerous lunatic who is wildly complicit in the whole disastrous Trump presidency and spends most of his time, when he’s not kissing Trump’s ass publicly, standing idly a step behind him with a smug smile while Trump puffs and poses and bloviates.  If I had my druthers, Pence would be eliminated from office as well, if not prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of his own.  (At the very least, he should be disqualified for being blind and naïve.  How could he not have known Mike Flynn was a political time bomb?  Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) has spoken often on his rounds of the political commentary shows about the dated letter that was sent to the White House TELLING THEM EXACTLY THIS.  So when Pence said he didn’t know, he either didn’t read a missive from the House Oversight Committee or he read it and then lied about it.  And that’s just one example of Pence’s duplicity.)

So let’s just say, wishfully speaking, that Pence is out as well, flushed down the toilet with the rest of the Trumpian turds.  Who’s next?  Paul Ryan, who has been a vice presidential candidate and a presidential candidate and is slobberingly desperate for this gig.  And if for some reason he’s out of the running, who’s next?  President pro tempore of the Senate, Orin Hatch, another long-standing spouter of the conservative party line.  WHY AREN’T THE REPUBLICANS CLAMORING FOR TRUMP’S REMOVAL?  Not that it would be great – oh, god, no – but at least there would be certain expectations of something resembling normal governmental functioning, decorum and (sort of) ethics.  At a minimum we wouldn’t have to deal with a president who is perhaps one of the dumbest people alive, who doesn’t believe that the law (which the legislators in Congress have the duty to create) applies to him and who is frighteningly apt to get us involved in some scary stuff, like a war or a dictatorship.*

If the Republicans successfully removed Trump from office, then America could start moving away from being the laughingstock we’ve become in the last six months.  (Six months!)  Some people might even see these Republican stalwarts as HEROES!!  They CLEANED HOUSE (literally)!!  They DID THE RIGHT THING!!  Saved the nation and the world from a lawless madman who should never have been elected in the first place, who won a tainted election with help from our mortal enemy, who belittled and insulted EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM during and even before his campaign (and it continues to this day).  We won’t even remind them how much they simpered and sniveled and said, “Yes, Mr. Trump”, “Whatever you say, Mr. Trump” for far too long, before finally coming to their senses and taking assertive action.  What possible benefit do the Republicans get with Trump IN office that they would not have – perhaps three or four times over – if he were NOT in office?  Republicans would still control all three branches of government, and there wouldn’t be a polarizing, clueless idiot at the helm who, between the “Russia thing”, his disdain for the law and his love of authoritarianism, is very likely risking THEIR jobs in the 2018 election.  Trump sees no issue with threatening to fire special prosecutor Bob Mueller or his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, both of whom are technically supposed to be neutral, to serve the Constitution and the American people, not to blindly swear loyalty to Trump, especially now that Mueller is getting closer to the truth (Sessions is a strawman).  But Trump does not consider himself constrained by the traditional boundaries of how the U.S. government is supposed to work – and has worked – for upwards of two hundred years, or by the rules of ethics that should prevent him from profiting off his presidency.

I just don’t get it.  Congressional Republicans are craven people out solely for their own interests (and those of their deep-pocket donors, so, like I said, their own ($) interests).  Why don’t they admit that this ridiculous “Buffoon-in-Chief” experiment has failed miserably and they need to make the next move?  Who will step up to restore order to the law?  Democrats don’t have the numbers, nor do they have a cohesive message at the moment, but they would surely support the impeachment by the House and the conviction by the Senate.  So it’s got to be those craven, self-interested Republicans.  Hurry, please, before he blows something up.  He’s feeling like a cornered dog and all he knows how to do is destroy.

* I’ve been interested in this bipartisan bill being considered in Congress right now about preserving and even beefing up the sanctions against Russia as punishment for their (concededly admitted) meddling in the 2016 election.  According to Trump’s new press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, he’s is ready to sign it.  [Sanders replaced the beleaguered Sean Spicer, who finally grew some cojones and decided he was done being a punching bag, but it may be too late for him now, since he’s shown himself on the public stage to be little more than a kicked dog.  I mean, how crushed must he have felt when Trump wouldn’t let Spicer, a devout Catholic, meet the Pope when they went to the Vatican?  Sad!]  But that’s probably because he is not aware (it almost goes without saying that Trump has not read the bill) that, within this potential law, there is a provision that says the president can’t reduce or remove the sanctions without the express approval of Congress.  It might be a hollow gesture, given that, as long as the Republicans retain control, they would probably red-stamp a Trump request.  But at least the opposition would be out in the open and subject to the court of public opinion (if not the actual courts).

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Origin Stories

I’ve always been intrigued by the beginnings of things.  Like, who was the first person who decided that a gas station might be a good idea, given the proliferation of cars back in the early part of the 20th century?  I mean, we all know about the Fords and their Model T, but who was the savant who said, “Hmm, there needs to be a ready source of petrol for these new-fangled vehicles”?

This fascination with how things begin runs the gamut from big things – like, who planned and built the first skyscraper in New York City? – to a family name on the side of a landscaper’s truck.  Like, what possessed Mr. Maldonado to open his own landscaping company?  How did he generate the capital to buy the trucks and equipment and hire the workers?  Was his family nervous when he took on this huge responsibility with no promise of a return on his investment?

I’ve been thinking about this as a blog post topic for a while.  It seems to arise in my mind when I’m driving, for some reason.  I look around me and all I see are daring “firsts” – who invented traffic lights?  Who opened the first yoga studio?  Kudos to all those folks who came from some other nation with the express goal of opening a family restaurant and introducing Indian food or Peruvian rotisserie chicken or even the ubiquitous Chinese cuisine(now “Asian fusion”) to the palates of boring Americana!  Who were the city planners who came up with the completely illogical naming of streets in the West End of Long Beach, where every street bears the name of a state but there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the order that they are in.  (Example:  Arizona Avenue, where I live, is sandwiched between Nebraska and Oregon.  Huh?)

When I went back to live at my mother’s house in Seaford (a small town on the South Shore of Long Island, which always impressed me because, according to the “Welcome to Seaford” town sign on Merrick Road, was established way back in the 1600s) while attending law school, I used to power walk around the various neighborhoods, including the ancient (by Seaford standards) Seaford Harbor.  I imagined that some of the properties down there might actually have been “purchased” (or flat out taken) from the Native Americans who lived there before the incursion of the town-founding Europeans in 1624.  One of the (many, many) things I want to do when I retire is historical real estate research, to maybe track the stories of some of the oldest titled properties on Long Island.  SOMEBODY (or more likely a small group of SOMEBODIES) had to be the first settlers in a strange land.  We always hear about the Pilgrims and the Jamestown colony but what about the first Long Islanders?  And let’s take it back even further, to the REAL first Long Islanders.  Where did the original natives come from?  They didn’t just spring up from the earth.

Go back even further, hundreds of thousands of years in the past.  Dictionaries always include the etymology of words, but who was the first person to actually use that word in conversation enough so that it would be memorialized through future generations?  Among the first humans to use words to communicate, who decided on the meanings?  Who invented written words?  For that matter, who was the first human to sing, or play music?  Who built the first guitar, and how did that person know what he (or she) was doing?

[I could get off on a whole tangent here, and perhaps I will one of these days, for a deeper discussion about the origins of our planet, and specifically our species on this planet, which I think about a lot.  Ultimately I’m content that I have no answers and will in all likelihood never get answers to those deepest of questions.  But a mind exercise I often engage in when I’m among masses of people –in Penn Station, for example – is to note that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE PEOPLE AROUND ME came out of a woman’s body and was a tiny, helpless infant, unable to talk, walk or do anything on their own for at least the first five years of their lives.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON, AS FAR BACK AS HUMAN HISTORY GOES.  That is, except for the very FIRST person or persons, if you consider that a human being is born of sperm and ova.  There’s always a “first”, right?  (Shall we engage in the proverbial chicken-and-egg debate, anyone?)  I understand how organized religions strive to present their own take on some kind of origin story (none of which I find to be a satisfying explanation), because it’s the first prong of humankind’s most intriguing inquiries:  Where did we come from, why are we here, and where are we going?  I don’t claim to have any answers except for these:  I came from SOMEWHERE, because I am quite obviously HERE.  I have some purpose for being here; I just haven’t figured it out yet (but hopefully I will).  And I won’t know where we go when we die until I actually die, which I am in no hurry to do.  You might say that’s simplistic and that I’m not a particularly deep thinker, which would be true.  But I’ve always been a person who prefers the obvious explanation.  I would make a very poor conspiracy theorist.]

My daily email from the inspirational blog “The Seeds 4 Life” today featured a sentence that very much captures my feelings about this whole line of thought:  “When you look around, everything you see was once someone’s dream or vision.”  [“You Have Brains in Your Head. You Have Feet in Your Shoes. You Can Steer Yourself Any Direction You Choose – Dr. Seuss”, posted by: Johanna Rosberg, TheSeeds 4 Life, 7/18/17, http://www.theseeds4life.com/you-have-brains-in-your-head-you-have-feet-in-your-shoes-you-can-steer-yourself-any-direction-you-choose-dr-seuss#more-6273]  Yes, copycats usually end up cashing in on someone else’s ideas, although they also make improvements.  I mean, the Wright Brothers are the renowned fathers of aviation, but some much-later genius said to himself (and his investors), “I think we need a whole FLEET of these flying machines to actually carry multiple humans from one place to another”.  It’s those first risk-takers that impress me the most.

* * * * *

Speaking of beginnings, I was so excited for the return of Game of Thrones this weekend and Episode 1 did not disappoint, laying the groundwork for what promises to be a scintillating Season 7.  From George R.R. Martin’s brain sprung this endlessly fascinating universe, and I will be sorry when the tale ends, presumably a little over a year from now.  There’s talk of prequels and sequels, and those efforts may have merit, but none will ever match the grandeur and fascination of the original.  (There’s always the novels, though – and we have two more of those massive tomes to look forward to!)

Children Are Our Future

I saw the Nick Cave documentary “One More Time with Feeling” at City Winery in NYC last night.  It was yet another excellent “date” suggestion by my friend Sue (she always has the BEST ideas):  a free showing (to those who made advance reservations, which she did, twice, just to be sure) of the recent film describing his creative process and how specifically the making of his most recent album, “Skeleton Tree”, was a way of dealing with his grief over the accidental death of his 15-year-old son Arthur.  The film also featured his wife Susie Bick and his other son, Arthur’s twin Earl, as well as Nick’s long-time musical partner Warren Ellis.  Nick Cave is one of my heroes and I believe he is a genius writer, composer and musician, so I would have fully appreciated the movie as a straightforward window into his creativity (much like his “20,000 Days on Earth,” which was a dramatization of a “typical” Nick Cave-ian day).  But the pervasive undercurrent of pain and grief among the principals in the film made it heartbreaking as well as fascinating.

I cannot imagine the devastation of losing a child.  I agonize over those stories on the evening newscasts – like the one last week about that monster who, in an uncontrollable road rage, fatally shot an accomplished young woman, days away from attending her college orientation, because she wouldn’t let him merge into her lane – where a parent, face swollen and red from days of non-stop weeping, can barely speak when confronted by the news crews asking about the horrifying and unexpected death of their beloved child, even days or weeks after their loss.

My daughter is so very precious to me.  I never had any great desire to be a parent, and it pretty much took me the entirety of her nearly 22 years of life on earth so far to admit that I’ve done a good enough job raising her to not have caused her any noticeable damage.  She has never been anything other than amazing to me, this passionate, caring, intelligent, funny and gorgeous young woman, everything I ever imagined or wished she would become.  And her future is bright and exciting, although she’s not quite sure where she’s headed just yet.  (I’m not worried – she’ll get there.)  The possibility of her not being around anymore is beyond imagining.

My aforementioned friend Sue waited until later in life to have a child and her son, Jed, is the light of her life.  I saw a recent photo of him from his 8th grade graduation ceremony and he looked so mature and confident.  I knew she was somewhere in the background just gut-busting with pride.  My daughter’s aunt had her first child just over a year ago, and judging by the barrage of Facebook photos (which I love seeing), she cannot get enough of her kid (and neither can her mom, Darian’s grandmother).  A child who is wanted and beloved is a miracle in every way.

Sometimes I try to imagine life for my daughter after I’m gone (she’ll be pretty old by then, I hope).  She says she doesn’t really want children of her own (just pets), but I remind her that it was never on my radar either until the day when, at age 35, I found out I was pregnant and figured, hey, I’ve been in a committed relationship for 6 years and my boyfriend had just suggested that we “do the right thing” and get married.  (How romantic, right?  My ex finally figured out my sense of romance after multiple incidents like this:  He once sent me a dozen roses at my office for Valentine’s Day and I was furious at him for spending so much money.)  If I don’t have a kid now, when (if ever)?  Instinctively, it felt good to make the choice to go ahead with parenthood.  (It almost goes without saying, to anyone who regularly reads this blog, that I am grateful that I had the choice, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that my daughter and her potential daughters and every other daughter always have that choice as well.)

My pregnancy  itself was pretty painless, until about a month before my due date when I developed preeclampsia and my doctor put me in the hospital for a couple of days just to get my blood pressure under control.  Eventually, the toxemia, plus the baby being over 9 pounds, led to me being induced, which failed miserably, and then a C-section, so I never even went through labor.  In retrospect, having my daughter was the best decision I ever made.

But let’s say she DOES decide to have a child or perhaps two.  (I never understand anyone who wants more than two kids.  One is perfect, but two is okay, especially if there’s one of each gender, so they can keep each other company.  I had a friend who, in her forties, after a number of failed pregnancies, gave birth to boy and girl twins, healthy and perfect in every way.  And yet she wanted to risk having ANOTHER child, at her advanced age.  That was something I just couldn’t comprehend, but it’s a free country (so far), and people should be able to have as many children as they want, as long as they have the means to properly take care of them.  Her third child turned out just fine, by the way.)  Would Darian and her kids (and perhaps a father/husband) live in this house, our renovated bungalow here at the beach?  She made me promise I wouldn’t sell it, but the big questions is:  Will this house survive global warming?  Now that it’s been “flood-proofed”, it has a better chance, but if sea levels rise to the point where the Long Beach barrier island goes underwater, EVERTHING will be gone, flood-proofing be damned.

I saw an AARP article the other day that talked about how the number of people living to be 100 will increase 12 times by 2060.  [Jo Ann Jenkins, “Live to 100. Plan on It,” AARP.org, 5/2/17, http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2017/jeanne-calment-plan-to-live-to-100-jj.html]  In 2060, I would be counted among that number.  I think I would like that, as long as I wasn’t decrepit and/or demented.  I clearly ought to start taking better care of myself!

And yet I fear for our planet, for the human race.  It seems that the people with the loudest voices and the deepest pockets (despite not having the largest numbers) are hell-bent on destroying Earth and all the creatures who call it home.  I have always believed that our creator set our species, the most advanced on the planet, on this grand experiment to exponentially evolve and advance, to get not only smarter but also more altruistic and cooperative (see “Aliens & Altruism, 7/29/15, for an earlier take on this topic), but it could just as easily be that we were designed to self-destruct at or before some random “expiration date.”.  If that does happen, would it be during my lifetime?  My daughter’s?  The lifetimes of my daughter’s children, or their children?

What did our grandparents and great-grandparents (and beyond) think about this topic?  I mean, my great-grandmother (who lived to 102) was born in the late 1800s, before telephones and electricity and air travel, let alone computers and thousand-channel streaming TV.  I’ve never been a huge science fiction fan but it certainly is intriguing to project into the future, to wonder what human beings might be capable of, both good and bad.  For the sake of our children and (potential) grandchildren, I certainly hope it’s the former.