Sunday, January 17, 2021

So, What Do They Want?

Thinking a lot about the Trump MAGAHeads and their treasonous mob scene at our Capitol last week.  There seems no question about Trump’s role, and in fact the role of various right wing Congressional perps and some of their religious right wing pastors.  To avoid losing the leadership of America’s government, the anarchists of the Far Right in America decided to overthrow the government. Their ultimate intent is still unclear, but it points to a true intended coup d’etat. To be fair, it was kind of a weird coup attempt, since its nominal leader was the actual current head of the government they were attempting to overthrow.  I guess, this was a virtual coup of a futurist sort? They were overthrowing a government not yet installed. And their titular leader was the guy actually in charge of the current government. So, a little confusing, but perhaps think of them currently as true anarchists, who wanted to destroy the existent government, republican and democrat alike. Maybe, what, kill off all the current house and senate members?  That part was never made clear, although they did bring along guns, ammo, some handcuffs, and I think some teargas.

My guess is that this was a test, really a sort of prototype coup, to test the waters so to speak.  They were perhaps thinking that if they could demonstrate some progress and avoid the worst consequences (everybody dead) maybe they would then have some data to use in designing the real coup, after President Joe and Veep Kamala actually took charge.  And if they lost a few of their thugs during this test, then so be it. Stuff happens, and you can’t win a coup without some losses.

Now, it was most interesting that, after urging his goon squad to march on the Capitol and do some violence, the Thug-in-Charge, you know, Trump, immediately retreated to his bedroom in the White House where he could watch it all on TV, and doubtless have a Big Mac.

In thinking about this mess, I have some difficulty with their ultimate end objective.  Many of Trump’s supporters seem to be borderline anarchists. That is, they are angry with government broadly, and want government out of their lives. All this mask-wearing crap, and these curfews, and “social-distancing” idiocies. Their small businesses closing as a result. Their pubs closing or being restricted.  And all because of some fake pandemic—clearly a deep state fakery invented by the likes of Nancy Pelosi and probably Barack Obama (he’s not even American don’t you know).

But in the final analysis, although I believe these thugs are anarchists at heart, what they are seeking is some kind of absolute control over the undesirables in America.  And by “undesirables” I include folks of color, Hispanics, and Libtards of all kinds, you know those Dem Party Commies.  Whether they hate women is at least questionable, although their nominal Gang Boss, The Donald, is a clear misogynist.  I fail to understand how any woman could support this dude, given his dismal history with women.

So, let’s assume that, at some stage the government comes crashing down around us. What do they intend after all the wreckage is laying all about us, and now everyone is thoroughly pissed? Well, my best guess is that what they envision is an Absolute Monarchy with religious trimmings. That is, they don’t want any more of this endless arguing about what we should be doing, you know, what happens in a Democracy.  Instead, they want a guy at the top who simply says what will happen on any given subject, and then that guy’s henchmen-soldiers, police, sheriffs—step in to oversee his decisions. Anyone who fails to comply with the Headman’s edicts gets ejected from society—either shoved into a jail cell, or simply eliminated.  Their assumption would be that the Headman will begin to issue edicts that reinforce the gang’s thinking—Christian religious compliance on all subjects, people of color begin to work in their “proper” place under White Men, elimination of wages to lazy people (aka welfare) . . . you know, the way God intended.

Now, whether they have advanced in their thinking to consider The Donald as King Donald I, with Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham as Dukes, and maybe idiots like Josh Hawley as a Baron is unclear. I am guessing not, although who knows? When truly stupid people run towards the Sun, who knows what their imaginings include??

I am guessing that they are now examining the results of their first real trial run—call it A Prototype Coup.  With The Donald leaving office nominally on January 20th, they may begin planning for a second run at the Coup Game.  What they may not be thinking about, or at least not thinking about seriously enough, is the role of the Nation’s military, the Governors with their assembled guardsmen and state police, and the federal law enforcement agencies.  I actually still believe that those folks will oppose another coup, of whatever size they intend.  Despite idiots like Michael Flynn who betrayed his military and his country, I think our military leadership prefers a democracy, with actual elected leaders, as opposed to idiot leaders who appoint themselves.  At least that is my fondest hope. I think that we fought World War II to oppose people like the ones currently supporting Donald Trump. We lost several hundred thousand of the Nation’s finest to prevent people like Adolph Hitler and Donald Trump to rule over us all. It is doubtless true that we do not have 100% of our military and our government leaders around the country in support of true democracy. But I believe we have a large enough base that these perps will fail, and that many of Trump’s gang of Nazi Thugs will wind up in Prison or dead.  We may have ugly times ahead, but I still believe that America The Beautiful will prevail.  Let us hope for good times ahead, after the pandemic ends and we can retrieve our lives again. May we look forward to a coming sunrise again. America The Beautiful is going to emerge again.



Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Trump Removal

So now, the Trump Nazi’s are threatening to hold an alternative reality inauguration, you know, one that gives Trump another four (or maybe 20??) years at the presidency. Seems only fair, after all, since he really won in a landslide.  This alternative reality, I understand, is the newest thing. Whenever you don’t like the way something is turning out, you simply declare another, more pleasing outcome. And then you ask your Nazi Thugs to support you by marching on whatever site you wish, armed if possible. And should some innocents get shot, or otherwise killed, well, you know, shit happens.  You just can’t worry about stuff like that.  Life goes on, as you define it.

So, is Trump actually in charge of his mind when he invents stuff like that?  Maybe, Is Trump ever in charge of his mind, is an even better question.  I realize that Trump is a Narcissist, and that he lies almost every time he opens his mouth. But the question that keeps forming in my mind is, when he invents some big lie, does he understand that he is lying, and maybe he just doesn’t care about such things as lying?  Or does he have such little contact with reality that he simply says whatever pops into his head to satisfy his ego-demands, and he has no actual concept of such things as truth or lies?

I am drawn to the latter explanation.   I think there is no other sensible explanation for his thousands of lies, big and small alike.

Now, does that mean that Trump should not be held accountable for his lies, because he doesn’t even realize that he is lying?? Or that he cannot be held accountable for his exhortations to his thousands of Nazi thug supporters to riot and destroy or even kill people who oppose them? Well, no, he can and must be held accountable.  But more to the point, I think we are dealing with such an aberrant personality that he can be fairly described as out of control, or perhaps, never in control.  His personality goes way beyond what we think of as “quirks”. His mind apparently is never actually in touch with reality. His mind manages only to deal with his deep ego-needs. Whatever his ego demands, his mind conjures. If those “conjurings” happen to damage people or institutions, he neither knows nor cares.

And that really is why he cannot be allowed anywhere near an office in our government—any office, no less the presidency.  He could concoct war scenes, and he still controls nuclear weapons. So, he cannot be allowed to continue. He is simply too far out of the mainstream of intelligent thinking processes.  Remember that little thought he concocted a while back . . . that he could walk out onto Fifth Avenue, pull out a gun and shoot someone, and his supporters would cheer, raising his numbers? Remember that? Well, he actually believes that.  So, imagine he wants his support to increase, so he suggests that maybe we need to drop some nuclear weapons on someone, Iran for example.  He imagines that would give his Thuggish supporters a big boost, and so they would adore him even more.

Is that really what we want/need as our president? I know that republicans have fallen into some trench lately, and that they seem to hold no moral or ethical principles any longer as a party.  But I also hope that there remain some former republicans (think Colin Powell) in our Land who still retain a sense of National Morality—that we really still are a Land of honorable people who seek the best for our world. I am hoping that those people will begin to assert some control over the crazed utterances of their former party leaders.

So, yes, by whatever means, we need to remove Trump from office immediately, and to forge some guarantee that he can never climb into a leadership position again.  He must be removed people. He is a danger to our Nation and to the World.  He cannot be allowed to continue.

Please folks, come to your senses about this. Trump is dangerous.  His Nazi Thugs are equally dangerous. We have entered the World of 1936 Germany people. Do we really wish to re-enter that world of wholesale Murder? We need to begin to move back to a nation of Law and Order, for everyone, not just the White Supreme beings among us.  

Return to a Sane Country. Please. Before we can no longer return.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

2021, The Pandemic Against Democracy Begins

 So, we’re all sitting around in our socially isolated existence thinking, “when will this nightmare pandemic end? I desperately want to get back to playing golf with my buds, and hoisting a few at the pub.”  Well, it’s coming, it’s coming, say the wise health care professionals who are awaiting the arrival of enough vaccines to kill off the COVID19 virus, just by sheer numbers of immune folks—you know, that “herd immunity” thing.  And then, maybe we can hug our kids and grandkids again, and enjoy a nice family dinner, complete with arguments, or maybe a nice meal out at our favorite restaurant, assuming it is still in business.  Yeah, that will be great. So, 2021, bring on that herd immunity thing. We are more than ready.

But then, in the first few days of 2021, we have some evidence of something arriving that may well make the Pandemic look like a mild case of the flu.  And what is that something? A new virus strain . . . maybe a variant of COVID?  Well, no. It was Louie Gohmert telling his faithful to get out on the streets and protest the election results, violently if necessary.  And then Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and several more senators came along and began yelling about overturning the state electors and objecting to the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So far, I think about a dozen republicans have decided they will object rather than certify the election results as declared by the state electors.  Yeah, they don’t like the election of Joe Biden, and by God they are not having it. Apparently God herself chose these dudes to determine who the next President of the United States should be.  And no national election, or Board of Electors in that Electoral College thingie is going to get in their way.

Now, the fact that people like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are likely planning a 2024 bid for the presidency should not be confused with their effort. Surely, they would not allow personal ambitions to get in the way of doing the right thing for America. No, the fact that 81,283,485 Americans voted to elect Biden and Harris should never be confused with their facts, which mainly are that they imagine a different result could have been achieved in the World of Truthiness that they inhabit.

Now, why do I compare this action with a Pandemic? Well, mainly, it occurs to me that republicans have decided, as egged on by their glorious leader Trump, that the normal rules of our democracy no longer apply to them.  The glorious leader is pressing the Governor of Georgia to overturn the Georgia election results, because in his world of Truthiness, he actually won the Georgia national election by thousands if not millions of votes, if all those dead people had not voted.  Now the fact that the Governor of Georgia has checked and decided that the results as reported were accurate is irrelevant to The Glorious Leader.  His Truthiness Facts are all that matters.

So, is this brouhaha just another of Trump’s figments of his wild-ass imagination, or something more serious?  Well, were it only Donald Trump, I might be tempted to conclude that he was simply falling apart in a final psychodrama, whining and crying as he always does when he cannot get his way.  But then I look at the entire republic party, and begin wondering. Is this thing bigger than Trump?

Something rather dramatic and perhaps even pathetic has happened to the Republican Party over the last 6-12 months. Maybe it has been going on ever since Trump was elected.  And what is that something? Well, I see two things occurring:

1.      The Republican Party now sees actual Facts as irrelevant. They now appear to think and to operate as though whatever they wish to believe is the actual Truth, the very definition of Truthiness (Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.)  You know—that Stephen Colbert Truthiness.  Republicans seem now to have adopted Truthiness as their underling logic model for everything they say or do. Until lately, this Truthiness thing could be treated as simply a bad joke by Donald Trump. All of his lawyerly efforts to overturn the election results were thrown out of court, quite properly, in some 50 odd cases. Amazingly, the lawyerly fees seem to have been paid by American supporters of Trump who appear to have more money than sense.  That is, the percentage of the donors’ money that Trump did not personally pocket.

2.       But then Republican party leaders, i.e., those elected to office in good faith, began adopting an “anything goes” philosophy of governance.  For example, the political leadership in various Executive Branch departments began telling officials to refuse to cooperate with Biden forces in terms of sharing information about the state of our world.  And others have begun asserting that they may well refuse to approve Biden’s cabinet picks, making his governing ability difficult if not impossible.  Now, I have been observing the peaceful transfer of power from one government to the next at least since the days of FDR and Truman. There have been a number of controversial elections, e.g., the 2000 election of Shrub over Al Gore, when the Supremes had to intervene to appoint George Bush the winner.  But in every case, the loser conceded and the winner assumed control of the government without any interference.

But now, we have active interference by the Republican Party, and promises to refuse to cooperate over Biden’s tenure. Now that is remarkable, because it suggests the actual coming apart of the American system of governance.  And that would be a Pandemic of catastrophic proportions, far worse than COVID19.  The outcome may be determined partly by the results of the Georgia election on January 6th, which determines the fate of the United States Senate. But even should the vote help Democrats take control of the senate, we have no confidence that the republicans will cede the outcome. It is possible that this party has now been so traumatized that the party is effectively dead.  The presence of Neo-Nazi’s/KKK and other White Supremacists now affecting the party may be too strong for the party to resist. Think 1936 Germany folks.

Only if enough moral, thinking republicans begin to move openly to regain control can the party survive, and can we avoid something close to a Civil War Redux. So, stay tuned folks. Are there enough folks, of the Mitt Romney stripe to regain control?  We will see over the next few months. Otherwise, the young at heart may need to consider the need to migrate to some actual civilized Nation.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

OK, So Who Are We?

So, Joe and Kamala become inaugurated in a few weeks. It’s all over but that final counting, but still, yet, people are pressing Mike Pence to do the wrong thing. They want to overturn the election, discard the votes of millions of people, and give in to the Nazi’s and KKK’s of our world in order to keep this deeply flawed, corrupt, ignorant pseudohuman, Donald Trump, in office.  I wonder whether even Donald Trump understands what this group wants. See, he isn’t too bright. And he is a Compleat Narcissist after all. All he understands is that he does not want to allow people out there in RealityLand to disrespect him.  It really is all about him. There is no world of other reality out there. Only him and his reality.  So, if Nazi’s/KKK’ers want to install White/Christian Rule in America, create concentration camps for those who don’t fit, and then slowly kill off those “others”, Trump neither knows nor cares, cuz he’s only about himself.

See, I think now that we may have had it wrong all along. We don’t have a Mafia Chieftain ruling America. Instead we have a KKK/Nazi clan ruling America with their pseudo-President ruling at their command.  Yes, he acts impetuously, and stupidly, and corruptly, and dangerously. But that’s just him. He neither knows nor cares what he is doing. So long as he can yell at people and fire them at will when they displease him, he is happy. If people get killed in the process, that’s life in the big city. Folks die.

But the real power behind the throne here is that group of KKK/Nazi clansmen, who remain busily organizing for the revolution, when America becomes Full-On Nazi.  That’s their real goal. At some stage, I imagine, those folks will kick him out into some golden dustbin. Then they will reveal their real ruler, whoever that might be. Rupert Murdoch anyone???

And then how will his followers, those MAGAHead, KKKNeoNazicultische clansmen feel about their new world?  Will Mitch still be a high muckymuck?   I assume Marco, and Teddy, and Newt, and Bannon, et al, will become barons in the new Land of GreatAmerica.  I assume this is the stage his current followers are awaiting. They desperately wish to live in the Land of the Almighty White PureMan.  Only then can they feel safe and secure. Their churches will abound in glorious song to their almighty God of Whiteness. People will cheer in the streets, as they round up all the normal folks throughout America.  And then King ??????Whoever will assume the throne of White Greatness . . .

Ohhhh . . . what is happening? Oh, my goodness, that was an awful dream I was having. I wonder whether it was that last glass of wine I had before bed time.  Ohhh, maybe I should return to sleep, and I can erase those dreadful thoughts.  No, I know, it’s morning again, and I will get up, shower and make us a couple of nice cappuccinos, and we can again toast, “To Us”, and then resume real life.

Has he left yet?? Hmmm, no, he still seems to be hanging around. His Nazi’s are still making noises, but they’re really just farting noises. Hey, the sun is arising. Life is beginning again. We have to stay strong people. Humanity is arising all over the globe. People are looking at their world and thinking, we need to be kind today, because Donald Trump and his clan of Mafiosa’s will soon be leaving for MaraLago, where the local folks plan to ban him from the premises. Maybe they’ll place him and his family on a boat and make them sail off to the Antarctic, where he will build a new casino that will fail. Then he will be happy again.

And then, we can all become normal folks again, you know, people with all kinds of problems, but who work hard to stay afloat and try to dispense some kindness each day.

So, smile people. Soon, soon, they will be gone, and the decent folks, Joe and Kamala will take charge and we can straighten our course and begin again trying to operate this country on sane principles again. It's coming. Hold tight.  Remain fast. Think kind thoughts. It’s all we have at the moment. Hopefully, it will be enough.

Be Kind, please.



Friday, December 25, 2020

Restaurants: Dining Out

Frank Bruni wrote a column recently in the New York Times about the flood of restaurants that we are losing nationally due to the pandemic.  And that we really need to take note, and maybe try to do our best to preserve wherever we can.  He was writing really about restaurants as a cultural phenomenon.  And his column caused me to think back, because restaurants to us have become an important part of our lives together.

Because I grew up relatively poor, living in a single parent’s home during the Second World War, restaurants did not figure much in our early lives.  But they did still figure. When I was very little, we lived in Brooklyn with my mom’s parents. Grandpa Inglis continued to make a modest income working on building or repairing houses in Flatbush. They had a modest bungalow in what is remembered as a rural part of Brooklyn, if that can be believed.  I have dim memories of wandering from their bungalow and encountering a field where cows resided. In Brooklyn.

And then the War broke out—yeah that Second World War thingie. And my mom somehow figured out a way to get herself trained as a bookkeeper—she did not go past 8th grade. My sister, in contrast (being ten years older than me) went on to Julia Richmond High School for a couple of years, before she dropped out and went to work. It was War Time and women were in demand.  So, my Mom and my sis got jobs with a naval architectural firm, Gibbs and Cox, in lower Manhattan.  And so we moved into Manhattan, into a flat on Second Avenue.  As I was then 6 in 1940, and my brother was 10, we attended a school a couple of blocks away. And we played on the streets of New York, while my mom and my sis worked to support us.

But every now and again, my mom and her girlfriends would take an evening and go to some club where they would have dinner and watch a show (I guess things were a bit less expensive in 1940). And my mom would give my brother a couple of dollars which we could use to go to a neighborhood Italian restaurant a couple of blocks uptown from our 71st Street flat. But think of that. A ten year old and a six year old would walk a couple of blocks uptown and go to a neighborhood restaurant where we would dine together. That was my first restaurant experience. And that experienced kicked off a lifelong love affair with restaurants.  I don’t think we went out to dine more than a few times together, my bro and me. But it awakened my brain to the thrill of dining out.

Note, we did not have many dining out experiences. Generally, we were lucky to be able to dine in.  And, then, after the War, my mom grew tired of having her two young sons playing on the streets of New York, and routinely getting hurt. So, she took some savings she had managed to accrue during that War, and used it to buy an old bungalow in Rockland County, New City Park.  It was a place where New Yorkers would come to spend their summers out of the city. And so we moved out of Manhattan.

And that restaurant thing, or “dining out”? Well, some, but very little. Again, that money thing.  Plus, New City Park had no restaurants, and the nearby villages of New City, Nanuet, and Spring Valley only had a few.  So, mostly, we “dined in”.

But then, I went off to college in the San Francisco Bay Area, to Stanford. And then I got married and we moved to that same San Francisco Bay Area. And there, my lifelong love affair with restaurants and “dining out”  became a real thing.  Over my long lifetime, I have grown to understand that New York City, Manhattan especially, is a restaurant-rich region. But first, I had to discover San Francisco.  After we married, we settled into the Bay Area. Because I traveled a fair amount, Carol and I arranged a standard baby sitter to care for our two kids when we went out to dinner. And out we would go, not quite, but almost every Saturday night.  We had our favorites of course.  There were two restaurants right across from where we lived on Nob Hill. One was a Russian restaurant and one an Italian restaurant, both on California. But because we lived on top of Nob Hill, we were surrounded by a restaurant-rich part of the City. We had our choice of cuisine, both foreign and domestic, and including all price ranges. We could walk to most of the city’s really fine restaurants, like Ernie’s or The Blue Fox, or, sometimes we would drive. I just read about the closure of The Cliff House restaurant, on the water overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a treat because it was an old resort style restaurant, quite lovely with a nice dinner awaiting you.

The area was so rich in restaurants that we would periodically pick a restaurant blindly out of the yellow pages and dine there. Literally, we were never disappointed.  Now, please remember, we never attended any fast food, or chain restaurants. These were all one-of-a-kind places.  But this was San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s. And dining out was now a tradition, as I say, almost a weekly affair.

Now, mind you, restaurant closures was never even a thought that ever passed into or through our heads. All the restaurants we attended were filled with customers on every occasion we visited. Clearly, our love affair with restaurants was shared by many of our city’s residents.

And then we were given the opportunity to travel abroad.  Now, mind you, this was a huge opportunity, Aside from our winging our way from New York to San Francisco, neither of us had ever traveled very far from our respective home base.  Even when we moved to San Francisco, we still didn’t travel much. I had some business travel, but that was by myself, and, although I dined out for every meal, it was by myself, so I count it not at all in my tale of restaurants.  See, dining out is intended to be a shared experience. One eats exotic foods, yes, but one also converses with someone close, while so dining, and drinking fine wines.

And this travel opportunity cemented our love affair with restaurants and dining out.

On our first trip headed overseas, we stopped in Beirut. Now, the well-traveled might consider this a mere trifle, but for two kids from New York who had hardly ever been on a plane, our stop in Beirut was amazing. Now, to be fair, we were traveling with two young kids and eleven suitcases, cuz we were headed off for what turned out to be a four-year stint in New Delhi, India. We arrived into a nice hotel in downtown Beirut, noting that the taxi drivers all seemed to drive Mercedes, and everyone was smiling or laughing.  This, of course, was way before everyone began killing everyone else just because they could.  And we ordered room service for the kids and we went out to dine. We dined outside at a nearby café, and simply drank in the exotic aromas of a truly foreign land, and some wonderful Middle Eastern cuisine.  We both looked at each other in amazement and ate slowly, but methodically, lingering on some lovely French wine.

And then the next day we were all headed for New Delhi on Pan Am #1.

Now dining out in India was special for many reasons. See, we had servants, one of whom, Joseph, was our cook.  He was the head man of five servants. So, most of our meals were overseen by the memsahib, but prepared by Joseph, as Carol slowly turned him into a chef superb.  But dine out we did. In Delhi, we grew accustomed to dining in Old Delhi, at an outdoor restaurant called Moti Mahal. They prepared Chicken Tandoori and Butter Chicken, along with some amazing vegetable dishes.  But it was the whole experience that mattered. Yes, the food was wonderful, but dining outside, watching all the other folks also gathering and dining, looking at the night sky, and occasionally going over to gaze into the open tandoor ovens where they cooked the tandoori chickens and the Nan made the whole experience quite wonderful. Once, we even dined there during a blackout. See the Pakistanis decided to wage war with India, again, and so they would occasionally launch their US-supplied jet fighter-bombers against India, which was protected by Russian SAM missiles.  But dine we did, still enjoying our meals, but watching the skies a bit more intensely.

And then we traveled around India, dining out wherever we went—Jaipur, Agra, so many places so little time. But each time, the dining was special. Yes, we insisted on good food, and India had an abundance of fine food restaurants. But each experience was a complete cultural event.  How about enjoying a fine meal at a local restaurant and then traipsing over to the Taj Mahal to witness the Taj at full moon, standing there bedazzled by the sight.

Or we traveled to one of India’s many “Hill Stations”, places up in the mountains that the Brits created or captured for themselves to escape the heat of India’s Monsoon season.  And each Hill Station had its own wonderful hotels (often palaces of one or more of India’s rajah’s) and yes, restaurants. You could combine a fine-dining experience with views of the Himalaya’s.

And we continued to travel, and dine. Once in Greece, we visited Athens. And atop one of the hillsides in Athens, we dined out at a restaurant atop Mount Lykavittos. And we drank a nice Greek retsina wine, ate some wonderful Greek cuisine, while down below outside the acropolis, a son et lumiere was going on.  Or we sat outside at a coastal restaurant in Mykonos, watching the sun setting over the windmills, while we chatted and ate fine Greek food and drank some nice Greek wine.

But whether we were in Germany, alongside the Rhine, or in Bangkok, sitting on a barge cruising along a Thai canal, while drinking fine wine and eating Thai food, the experiences continue to plow into our brains. Interesting places, wonderful food, chatting with nearby people, and, of course, looking into each other’s eyes as we lifted our wine and toasted, “To Us”.  We arrived back into the US aboard a ship from London, and immediately greeted our family and then headed for a nearby harbor restaurant, where our family toasted our return and we ate in style, and enjoyed a nice bottle of 1959 Chateau Lafitte Rothschild.

See, the dining out with friends and family, perhaps especially with a loved one, is a multifaceted cultural experience. It is a phantasm of sights, smells, tastes and chattering, absorbing everything wonderful in a few hours, but forging a memory lasting forever.

Wherever we lived we experimented with dining out, but we often forged relationships with particular restaurants that offered us the fine food and wine, but also a social experience. Here in Concord, we forged that relationship with our local Italian restaurant, Gianni’s Trattoria, which is like that show “Cheers”, where “everybody knows your name”.  Fine food, wonderful chats with the owners and their staff. This is the stuff of dining out. Now I should stress again, that I am never speaking of fast food/chain restaurants. They are more like shopping at your neighborhood supermarket. I refer in my wanderings here of local restaurants that are one-of-a-kind.  Locally owned, with often long time staff, and chefs that keep trying to dazzle you, because that is what they do.

And why do I go on and on here? Well, I fear that this Pandemic is also a unique event, unique in its killing power. Yes, old folks like me will get killed by this dreadful virus. But, it seems to possess even greater powers, the power to kill restaurants, pubs, and other similar places. How can these places survive, if people cannot go out and experience their offerings?  This damned COVID thing could kill off a vital part of our culture.

And yes, I understand that other institutions also are suffering and may be shuttering their services.  But I mourn the loss of restaurants, because they are such a wonderful addition to our lives.  And I keep hoping that folks will do everything they can to minimize the damage. We can buy gift cards, purchase their take-out food, and even, whenever we are permitted by local ordinances and common sense, return to dining in.

We will eventually survive this pandemic, because our scientists continue to work at ways to defeat these virus creatures. Vaccines and other scientific methods are being devised as we speak.  And yes there will always be Stupid people like President Trump who decry our scientists, mainly because that is what stupid people do.  And we will have to also survive idiots like Trump, which hopefully our recent votes have accomplished.  But one can never be certain. The idiots of the world procreate with abandon and they keep producing more idiot-malenfants. So, we all need to keep our wits about us. Dine out With Care. Vote With Care. And keep your brains alive and well.  The only way to defeat idiots or viruses, is with brains hard at work.

Welcome to the new world just now coming—2021, at your disposal. Smart people are on the way now.

 

 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

What is Going On, America?

So, what the hell is going on in America?

I have been here for a long time. I voted in every election since 1956—Ike-Stevenson—and I have never witnessed anything so bizarre as what we see now on almost a daily basis.  And, of course I include our pseudo-president, The Donald, but it is what we can see almost daily from at least some of the 70 million people who voted for Trump.  Worse yet, we are observing the almost complete destruction of the republican party, as only maybe 27 of the republican members of Congress are willing to concede to the Biden election victory.  Can anyone imagine such a bizarre situation in, say, 1960, when Kennedy won the election?  

The 1960 United States presidential election was a closely contested election. Democratic United States Senator John F. Kennedy defeated incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican Party nominee. This was the first election in which fifty states participated and the last in which the District of Columbia did not. It was also the first election in which an incumbent president was ineligible to run for a third term because of the term limits established by the 22nd Amendment.

Nixon faced little opposition in the Republican race to succeed popular incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kennedy, a junior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, established himself as the Democratic front-runner with his strong performance in the 1960 Democratic primaries, including a key victory in West Virginia over United States Senator Hubert Humphrey. He defeated Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson on the first presidential ballot of the 1960 Democratic National Convention, and asked Johnson to serve as his running mate. The issue of the Cold War dominated the election, as tensions were high between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Kennedy won a 303 to 219 Electoral College victory and is generally considered to have won the national popular vote by 112,827, a margin of 0.17 percent. The 1960 presidential election was the closest election since 1916, and this closeness can be explained by a number of factors. Kennedy benefited from the economic recession of 1957–58, which hurt the standing of the incumbent Republican Party, and he had the advantage of 17 million more registered Democrats than Republicans. Furthermore, the new votes that Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president, gained among Catholics almost neutralized the new votes Nixon gained among Protestants. Kennedy's campaigning skills decisively outmatched Nixon's, who wasted time and resources campaigning in all fifty states while Kennedy focused on campaigning in populous swing states. Nixon's emphasis on his experience carried little weight for most voters. Kennedy relied on Johnson to hold the South, and used television effectively. Despite this, Kennedy's popular vote margin was the narrowest in the 20th century.

But did we get riots in the streets, or right wing terrorists threatening to gun down the country if the election was not overturned?? Hmmm, well no, we did not. 

And how about that narrow race in 1968?

The 1968 United States presidential election was the 46th quadrennial presidential election, in which former vice president Richard Nixon, defeated the Democratic nominee, incumbent vice president Hubert Humphrey. Analysts have argued the election of 1968 was a major realigning election as it permanently disrupted the New Deal coalition that had dominated presidential politics since 1932.

Incumbent president Lyndon B. Johnson had been the early front-runner for the Democratic Party's nomination, but withdrew from the race after narrowly winning the New Hampshire primary. Eugene McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Humphrey emerged as the three major candidates in the Democratic primaries until Kennedy was assassinated. Humphrey won the nomination, sparking numerous anti-war protests. Nixon entered the Republican primaries as the front-runner, defeating Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan, and other candidates to win his party's nomination. Alabama governor George Wallace ran on the American Independent Party ticket, campaigning in favor of racial segregation.

The election year was tumultuous; it was marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and subsequent riots across the nation, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and widespread opposition to the Vietnam War across university campuses. Nixon ran on a campaign that promised to restore law and order to the nation's cities and provide new leadership in the Vietnam War. A year later, he would popularize the term "silent majority" to describe those he viewed as being his target voters. He also pursued a "Southern strategy" designed to win conservative Southern white voters who had traditionally supported the Democrats. Humphrey promised to continue Johnson's war on poverty and to support the civil rights movement. Humphrey trailed significantly in polls taken in late August but narrowed Nixon's lead after Wallace's candidacy collapsed and Johnson suspended bombing in the Vietnam War.

Nixon won a plurality of the popular vote by a narrow margin, but won by a large margin in the Electoral College, carrying most states outside of the Northeast. Wallace won five states in the Deep South and ran well in some ethnic enclave industrial districts in the North; he is the most recent third party candidate to win a state. It was the first presidential election after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had led to mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. Nixon's victory marked the start of a period of Republican dominance in presidential elections, as Republicans won four of the next five elections. In addition, he became the first non-incumbent vice president to be elected president, a feat which would only be duplicated in 2020 by Joe Biden.

And yet, despite all that tumult, we had no violent protests of the election results. No armed thugs running around threatening Governors, or state officials to get them to change the vote counts. Nope, however annoyed were the masses, people finally accepted the vote, and once again, we had a new president sworn into office.  And you also perhaps noticed that the losers did not run around the country insisting they had won, if only legal votes were counted. Nope, however annoyed were the losers, they acted like actual Americans, and accepted the results. 

I realize I am really old, and I perhaps belong to a discarded population group that remembers a different world.  But see, I also remember World War II, and Korea, and Vietnam, and the Cold War, and the Berlin Blockade, and the Kennedy assassination, and the MLK assassination, and the Bobby Kennedy assassination. I remember Reagan getting shot (and No, I don’t remember Lincoln’s assassination).  But those shootings resulted from vaguely crazed thugs, likely NRA supporters, who had more guns than intelligence or common sense.

I guess America has always been a kind of weird place, filled with all sorts of people, including vaguely crazed people.  But mainly, in my memory, the truly crazy people largely remained in their respective closets, because most of the folks living here really did not want nutcases on the loose.  Now, periodically some of the nutcase thugs escaped from their closets and acted out their crazy fantasies—see all those assassinations above.  But even when we maybe did not like the person who had been shot, we still gathered together to decry such actions. They were UNAMERICAN!  True Americans simply did not act like that and the idiots acting out had to be censured by the masses (us guys).

Now, it seems, life in America is different. We have a fully delusional president who has well and truly lost the election, but who refuses to acknowledge his loss (a first I think).  But, worse than that, almost the entire Republican Party that he represents seems predisposed to endorse his lunatic assertions and actions. Think of that. The entire Republican Party is afraid of Donald Trump, a man who has never accomplished anything in his entire life. A man who has instead failed at everything he has ever attempted, from his dismal businesses, to his even more dismal marriages.  I keep looking for models for this behavior, and I have great difficulty, but I keep getting drawn back to Mussolini and Hitler in the 1930s, with perhaps Mussolini being the better role model. But even they are problematic role models, since they at least had visions in their heads, whereas Trump seems to have mostly images of blonds with big teats. 

But perhaps even more dismaying than the collapse of the entire Republic Party is the roughly 70 million people in America who saw fit to vote for this dismal being, not once, but twice. Even after his catastrophic first four years, with his handling of the pandemic representing a new low in executive mismanagement, those 70 million people still saw fit to vote for him a second time. 

How is that possible?  Do we have 70 million racists or white nationalists who are still protesting the election of a Black Man to the presidency?  It seems impossible to believe. Now many are laying blame at the feet of our various social media channels, and several TV channels, principally Fox, OAN and NewsMax.  These channels, for reasons known only to them, decided to support this delusional person, regardless of what he did or said.  They seemed even to regale his worst instincts and outbursts. I assume that both money and a sense of white nationalism guides these media outlets.  The other social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter seem guided only by money, but they permit and perhaps even encourage the formation of bubbles, within which you will find only reinforcement for whatever peculiar views you hold.  They pretend to censor, but they either fail, or are not really trying.  Trump is known to have lied to the public, mostly via Twitter somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30,000 times, without being held to account. I guess expecting the social media channel to control delusional behavior is like expecting the Mafia to develop a conscience.  So, these 70 million folks are able to converse and gain support for their views, even when those views are filled with false facts. I guess “Truthiness” is now the watchword of America.  Remember that term? Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. And that seems to be America, 2020.

Will it change, this Truthiness World in which we now live, a world in which violence, even extreme violence seems just around the corner? Well, it may, it just may. But it all depends on whether we can actually drag this creature, kicking and screaming, out of the White House, and also, whether the many institutions within our country that pretend to safeguard our republic, actually care enough to act in the face of violence.  We need both political parties to stand up and say ENOUGH!. We need our judicial system to continue to stand up and say NO to Trumpian idiocies.  And we need our police and our military to say NO to right wing nationalist violence (and there will be violence). The 70 million people may well finally retreat into mere opinionated annoyance, if we are able to begin to control the Truthiness Machines of Trump and his right wing PR outlets. 

But these are all still MAYBE’s.  Because Trump has actually dragged us to the rim of darkness, where we are looking down on that thing called a Civil War.  We still have time to retreat. But a retreat to decency and civil behavior towards one another is not guaranteed.  We need to want peace. We need to want actual TRUTHs to govern our behavior. We need to want to stop killing people through inaction or stupidity (hallmarks of the Trump administration).

We need to want Decency, and Ethical Rational behavior,

If we don’t want those things enough, there is still time for the killing to begin. Let us hope we are better than that. Let us hope that the New Year, 2021, represents the beginning of a New Age of Decency in America, a return to our founding principles. Let us Hope Together.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Grateful

Daily I have to fight off a sense of complete depression. It was not enough to have to face daily the barrage of lies and other crap flowing out of the Oval Office daily.  Our pseudo-president is a one-man depression machine. And then we have this pandemic thingie. I’m old enough to remember World War II, but nothing, including that awful war, created this sense of foreboding of the pandemic plus Trump. Oh and then there’s that 85 thing.   Maybe were I 39 really, instead of in my 46th 39th year, I would be able to say, “oh, screw it, this too will soon go away”. But when old Father Time keeps creeping up to my front door and reminding me that the end is near, it is much more difficult to say, “to hell with this thing”.

But then I realize that our grandson and his lady love will soon be gracing our door, just to chat for a bit, since we no longer get to spend Sunday evenings at a nice family dinner with him.  It’s nice that our grandkids try to do just that with enough frequency that we are able to smile at the thought.  Or they call us from afar, again just to chat, to see how we are. 

And it is difficult to imagine how life would be were my wife (of 65 years) and I not here supporting and loving one another daily.  Many folks are not so blessed. After 65 years and counting, my wife and I are not merely lovers, but best friends.  And not in the Facebook sense of that term.  Best friends means that we finish each other’s sentences. That when one of us begins to want something, but the right word refuses to come out, we toss out the word and then we laugh.  Best friends means that in the morning, every morning, I make a nice cup of Cappuccino for each of us. Then we hold the cups up, click them, look into our eyes, and say, “To Us”.  And in the evening, we do the same ritual with a nice glass of wine.

We snuggle while watching TV together—Late night comedies and British TV mysteries, or comedies. Turns out snuggling is good for friends. Maintains that BFF character the way it was intended.

And then we have the anticipation. What anticipation you ask? Well, we have another Great Grandchild arriving soon. Yes, we have some Great Grandchildren, at least one of whom is now moving out of the “children” stage and into the adult stage. But a new Great Grand remains very special.  And so we look forward to late December or maybe early January to greet our new arrival into our extended family.  And that is very exciting.  Grandkids and now great grands are very special to us oldsters. They provide a source of love without really demanding anything, except some love in return.  Quite wonderful.

And so we continue to understand that love really does make the world this special place. Yes, we all need money and security, but mostly we need love.  Had Donald Trump been loved, ever, in his poor benighted life, he would not be this monster he became.  Because love provides security, a sense that you have worth, and that you have a special place in this world. Lacking love, many people opt for false power over others, and creates a need to demonstrate superiority over other people. With Love,  you know you are special and don’t need to devalue others.

And so, we are grateful. This awful period will actually end someday, even if not soon enough. Hopefully, our grandkids will be able to look back and understand that the world came close to devouring itself, but then we all stepped back from that precipice.  Hopefully, they will be able to open their eyes in the morning and say to a loved one, “Good morning. I love you and thanks for being here”. Or gaze at a glorious sunset and say, “thank you world for being so wonderful.”

Hopefully, Gratitude and kindness will then follow. So thanks world.