TRUMP’S RAGE JUNKIES

This is from today’s NY Times Op Ed page.

I felt that it was worthy of sharing as it made me think.

Deadhead1155

By Charles Blow

It is truly a confounding time to be alive, to be an American.

We are watching as a president of the United States openly lies, fabricates and exaggerates while two-fifths of the population cheers him for it.

He spurns our allies and embraces our adversaries and people shrug.

He, his congressional allies and his propaganda arm are waging open warfare on the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an effort to tarnish it before its inquiry into connections between the Trump campaign, family and associates and Russia can be made public.

He is a racist who disparages black and brown people, whether they be immigrants, Muslims, people from Haiti and Africa, Barack Obama, the mayor of San Juan or Maxine Waters. People equivocate about it and excuse it.

He is attacking the press in the most aggressive of terms so that what they reveal about him will be viewed with skepticism.

He is attempting to weaken our institutions, our protocols and conventions, our faith in the truth, our sense of honor and our respect for the rule of law.

And somehow, many Americans, even those disgusted by what they see, have resigned themselves to this new reality.

In fact, Trump’s poll numbers had been inching up before he created a humanitarian disaster at the border by separating children from their parents.

I guess this is how empires begin to fall. It isn’t necessarily one dramatic moment, but the incessant monotony of assaults on normalcy that slowly shift the ground beneath you, reorienting what is proper and preferable, what is outrageous and what is acceptable.

Every day in the Trump era one could start a sentence with “never before …” and end it in astonishment and exclamation. But that has a cumulative effect of erosion. The constancy of the individual outrages reduces the psychic significance of the collective.

Trump is exhausting our mental capacity for indignation. This does not help Trump in the eyes of most Americans, to be sure. The Resistance remains strong and will likely have an impressive showing in the November elections.

But, along the margins, where both support for Trump and objections to him are soft, his tactics may have greater impact.

Not to mention the fact that those tactics keep his base riled and ready. Trump is like a drug dealer who has addicted his followers to fear and rage and keeps supplying it in constant doses. His supporters have become rage-junkies for whom he can do no wrong.

Let’s be clear about the demographics of this base: While the overwhelming majority of blacks and Hispanics have an unfavorable view of Trump, just as many white people have a favorable view of him as have an unfavorable view of him, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll conducted last month.

Part of that is undoubtedly due to the increasingly racialized nature of our partisanship, but it is also because Trump has positioned himself as a white power president.

One of the things that his supporters like is the very thing that others detest: His unapologetic, unabashed crusade to fight off all efforts at racial and ethnic inclusion. They may not articulate it as such, but that is the nature of Trump’s policies: Promising to build a wall, disparaging Mexicans, separating immigrant families, the Muslim ban, decreasing even legal migration, denigrating protesting football players.

Trump has vented an American racial anxiety, giving it power and a perch, giving it permission to be vocal and even violent.

Indeed, these are all parts of what fuels opposition to Trump.

The Suffolk University/USA Today poll asked people who disapprove of Trump to put in their own words why they don’t support him. These were some of their top responses:

・ Liar/Dishonest/Corrupt: 12 percent.

・ Doing a poor job: 9 percent.

・ The way he treats people/Bully/Ass/Jerk/Disrespectful: 8 percent.

・ Disagree with his views/stand on issues: 8 percent.

・ Lack of morals/Not a good person/Poor character: 7 percent

・ Racist/Hate: 6 percent.

But no amount of moralizing from Trump’s opposition will affect the fervor of his supporters. Quite the opposite: Nothing quickens the pulse and induces the delight of conservatives more than the consternation of liberals. They would let the whole country collapse for the pleasure of spite.

And this is where we are now: at a standoff. The Trump apparatus is entrenched, and each day burrows ever deeper into the core of what made America greater, better, different: its slow but steady arc toward more inclusion, equality, openness. Only two things seem capable of offering relief: The elections this year and in 2020, or something damning from the Russian meddling investigation.

Last week, an exasperated Representative Trey Gowdy lashed out at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying, “Whatever you got, finish it the hell up, because this country is being torn apart.”

But that’s like blaming the doctor for your illness. The investigators aren’t tearing the country apart. They are trying to protect and save it.

Trump and his defense machine — including members of Congress — are tearing it apart.

Trump-addicted acolytes are tearing it apart.

I invite you to join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter (@CharlesMBlow), or email me at chblow@nytimes.com.

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CHOICES

 

2018 Me and Caden (2)

Caden and his Grandpa at the lake playground.

Life is made up of choices. It always has been and always will be. Doesn’t matter who you are.

Through out my adult life I have always chosen family over the big money career. To me there was never really any other option. Choices. What is right for me does not make it right for someone else. That does not make it wrong for either of us. This is what makes the world go around. This is what makes life so interesting.

When my children were small I always made every single school (or preschool) play. I chaperoned every single trip with the exception to the trip that Adam took to California where another father got picked instead of me. Every graduation. Being in Sales made it a bit easier for me than it would have been if I took a position in management or had a job that required a lot of traveling. Choices.

Today, I am a Grandpa. And a Hands on Grandpa. My grandson is Caden. He is a bit over two years old. For various reasons (a blog unto itself) I chose to take Social Security and semi retire at sixty two. So for three days a week I drive Uber/Lyft and on Thursday and Fridays I hang out with my grandson. Some might say that I am Toddler Sitting, others might say that I am helping my son and daughter-in-law save on daycare, but I say that I am staying young and enjoying every single minute of our time together. Sure by the time my kids get home from work I am wiped out. I mean from when I arrive at 9am and leave around 6pm or so it is nonstop motion. Yes I try to get him to nap but he doesn’t always nap and usually not as long as I (or his parents) would like. But who can blame him, he is hanging and playing with his Grandpa. Once again, I get to carry someone around like a football as he flies like Buzz Lightyear to infinity and beyond in the hands of his pal Woody. Or be a horse and pull him in his wagon to the playground at the lake. Choices.

Now that the weather is finally warm we follow a stream from the hill as water flows from the woods to the lake. I get to play Pooh Sticks weekly on a bridge. We feed the fish. We throw rocks into the lake to see who has a better arm. Caden of course.

Choices.

We play in the lake. The other day he found a long handle shovel in the sand, I was standing in the lake being a good lifeguard. Suddenly he comes running at me with the shovel. I yell not to run with the shovel in his hand. Now he walks, right into the lake. Races over to me and with his free hand he gives me a great big squeezie hug and with the other behind my back he uses the shovel to splash water all over me and laughs hysterically. I make believe that I am angry but splash him back. We are both soaked and laughing like idiots.

Choices.

Next he is on the swings again as Buzz Lightyear but this time I am told that I am Mr. Potato Head. He talks to me from his trip to the moon on his wrist communicator and I answer back. Of course.

Choices.

I could go on and on and on but you already know how this is going.

I am not rich in my bankbook but I am very wealthy just the same.

Today was Father’s Day. Now I don’t really believe in ‘Hallmark Holidays’ but when he and his father showed up to spend the day with me it was like Nirvana. Grandpa and Noni got a special extra day to put in the bank.

Choices. Life is filled with choices. So far so good.

2018 Fathers Day from Caden

‘Grandpa, Father’s Day 2018

Will we stop Him Before It’s Too Late

By Madeline Albright

(I wish that I had written this, but alas I cannot take credit. Please read on.

Thank you. Deadhead1155)

On April 28, 1945 — 73 years ago — Italians hung the corpse of their former dictator Benito Mussolini upside down next to a gas station in Milan. Two days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker beneath the streets of war-ravaged Berlin. Fascism, it appeared, was dead.

To guard against a recurrence, the survivors of war and the Holocaust joined forces to create the United Nations, forge global financial institutions and — through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — strengthen the rule of law. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the honor roll of elected governments swelled not only in Central Europe, but also Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost everywhere, it seemed, dictators were out and democrats were in. Freedom was ascendant.

Today, we are in a new era, testing whether the democratic banner can remain aloft amid terrorism, sectarian conflicts, vulnerable borders, rogue social media and the cynical schemes of ambitious men. The answer is not self-evident. We may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered. In fact, fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.

Warning signs include the relentless grab for more authority by governing parties in Hungary, the Philippines, Poland and Turkey — all United States allies. The raw anger that feeds fascism is evident across the Atlantic in the growth of nativist movements opposed to the idea of a united Europe, including in Germany, where the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland has emerged as the principal opposition party. The danger of despotism is on display in the Russia of Vladimir Putin — invader of Ukraine, meddler in foreign democracies, accused political assassin, brazen liar and proud son of the K.G.B. Putin has just been re-elected to a new six-year term, while in Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, a ruthless ideologue, is poised to triumph in sham balloting next month. In China, Xi Jinping has persuaded a docile National People’s Congress to lift the constitutional limit on his tenure in power.

Around the Mediterranean, the once bright promise of the Arab Spring has been betrayed by autocratic leaders, such as Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt (also just re-elected), who use security to justify the jailing of reporters and political opponents. Thanks to allies in Moscow and Tehran, the tyrant Bashar al-Assad retains his stranglehold over much of Syria. In Africa, the presidents who serve longest are often the most corrupt, multiplying the harm they inflict with each passing year. Meanwhile, the possibility that fascism will be accorded a fresh chance to strut around the world stage is enhanced by the volatile presidency of Donald Trump.

If freedom is to prevail over the many challenges to it, American leadership is urgently required. This was among the indelible lessons of the 20th century. But by what he has said, done and failed to do, Mr. Trump has steadily diminished America’s positive clout in global councils.

Instead of mobilizing international coalitions to take on world problems, he touts the doctrine of “every nation for itself” and has led America into isolated positions on trade, climate change and Middle East peace. Instead of engaging in creative diplomacy, he has insulted United States neighbors and allies, walked away from key international agreements, mocked multilateral organizations and stripped the State Department of its resources and role. Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, his oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties. On the contrary, they can and do point to Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions.

At one time or another, Trump has attacked the judiciary, ridiculed the media, defended torture, condoned police brutality, urged supporters to rough up hecklers and — jokingly or not — equated mere policy disagreements with treason. He tried to undermine faith in America’s electoral process through a bogus advisory commission on voter integrity. He routinely vilifies federal law enforcement institutions. He libels immigrants and the countries from which they come. His words are so often at odds with the truth that they can appear ignorant, yet are in fact calculated to exacerbate religious, social and racial divisions. Overseas, rather than stand up to bullies, Mr. Trump appears to like bullies, and they are delighted to have him represent the American brand. If one were to draft a script chronicling fascism’s resurrection, the abdication of America’s moral leadership would make a credible first scene.

Equally alarming is the chance that Mr. Trump will set in motion events that neither he nor anyone else can control. His policy toward North Korea changes by the day and might quickly return to saber-rattling should Pyongyang prove stubborn before or during talks. His threat to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement could unravel a pact that has made the world safer and could undermine America’s reputation for trustworthiness at a critical moment. His support of protectionist tariffs invites retaliation from major trading partners — creating unnecessary conflicts and putting at risk millions of export-dependent jobs. The recent purge of his national security team raises new questions about the quality of advice he will receive. John Bolton starts work in the White House on Monday.

What is to be done? First, defend the truth. A free press, for example, is not the enemy of the American people; it is the protector of the American people. Second, we must reinforce the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Third, we should each do our part to energize the democratic process by registering new voters, listening respectfully to those with whom we disagree, knocking on doors for favored candidates, and ignoring the cynical counsel: “There’s nothing to be done.”

I’m 80 years old, but I can still be inspired when I see young people coming together to demand the right to study without having to wear a flak jacket.

We should also reflect on the definition of greatness. Can a nation merit that label by aligning itself with dictators and autocrats, ignoring human rights, declaring open season on the environment, and disdaining the use of diplomacy at a time when virtually every serious problem requires international cooperation?

To me, greatness goes a little deeper than how much marble we put in our hotel lobbies and whether we have a Soviet-style military parade. America at its best is a place where people from a multitude of backgrounds work together to safeguard the rights and enrich the lives of all. That’s the example we have always aspired to set and the model people around the world hunger to see. And no politician, not even one in the Oval Office, should be allowed to tarnish that dream.

TO KEURIG OR NOT TO KEURIG

 

12063691_10207498143761971_4963406016016687035_n.jpgMost people that know me know that I take my coffee seriously.  Now I am not talking about all of those special blends and concoctions that are available today for half a weeks salary. No I don’t need a  Caramel Macchiato, or Frappuccino. I don’t need a Narino Cold Brew or a Cinnamon Dolce Latte. (No offense to my son who is a Barista at Starbucks). Just give me a good tasting plain old cup o’Joe.

For decades I was happy with my drip coffee maker. I would set it up at night and when my alarm would go off in the morning, there waiting for me, steaming hot was my first cup of coffee of the day. Yes I would stumble, with my eyes wide shut, to the kitchen and grab the mug of the day (that’s a whole other story) fill it to the rim and sip. There is an art to sipping coffee, one must sip it with your mouth slightly open and drink and inhale the aroma at the same time.  I am not a cigarette smoker but I can imagine that that first sip of coffee must be like lighting up that first cigarette of the day.  Indescribably delicious. And when that first mug was done I would walk back to the coffee maker and grab my second cup. Not as good as the first but it was there waiting for me calling to me from the kitchen. Aahh life’s little pleasures.

As a Scout Leader for two decades now, it used to be my job to get up a half an hour early to start perking the coffee for the other Leaders. It was a dirty job but someone had to do it. There is nothing in the world like fresh perked coffee.  The aroma from each pot brought back memories of my childhood. Waking up on the weekend the house always smelled of two things, coffee and bacon.

Now a days, the house just smells of bacon (don’t tell my cardiologist please). Why you may ask? Did I give up coffee? NFW. But making coffee has changed over the years. Now we have a Keurig Coffee Maker. Anyone not living under a rock knows all about Keurig coffee makers. You make one cup at a time and if you are a good host, have a variety of flavors available for you (or guests) every whim.  Let’s not even begin with the outrageous cost of the Keurig Coffee Maker alone.

My wife and I can be considered ‘Tree Huggers”. We are not fanatical but we realized that these little pods of coffee just add to the landfill problem. So we found ourselves tearing them open, emptying them and putting the plastic pod in with the recycling. Eventually we bought the reusable pods and fill them ourselves. A big savings to both our wallets and the landfills. But is is worth it? Every-time that I want a cup of coffee, there I am filling up the reusable pod, to make my coffee.

The Keurig is nice, especially when company comes over but in reality, I miss the good old coffee maker where I get a pot at a time and it is waiting when I wake up in the morning, and that second cup is waiting when I have to fill my travel mug. The positive list goes on and on. So sometimes, change may not be so good. I think that I may go shopping for new coffee maker. One that can support my habit in a more timely fashion.

See the source image

 

I’M NOT OLD YET!!

Twelve years ago, at the ripe old age of 50, I got an envelope in the mail from AARP. My first reaction was that of anger. Me, a member of AARP? BUT I’M ONLY 50! Then I realized that it wasn’t that expensive, and I figured that as I got older, it would be good to have a Lobby in Washington DC.  Just to piss my wife off, I could get her a card too. I found out that I would now be eligible for a free cup of coffee at McDonald’s and all that I had to do was show my card at the register. SOLD!

I remember when my folks joined. They got all kinds of great things. It seems like suddenly they were traveling all over the place at great savings. Four days in London, a trip to Barbados, Broadway tickets and more. Cool, now I was part of that club. But no, I was never offered a trip, or a Broadway ticket. What I kept getting were offers for life Insurance (just enough to cover my funeral expenses), dental insurance and vision insurance. Oh, and let’s not forget those Life Alert pendants in case I fall down and can’t get up. BUT I’M ONLY 50!!!!

Here we are, twelve years later and we still belong to AARP. Suddenly, last week, a Miles Kimball catalog appeared in the mailbox. I figured now that I am definitely old enough to be an AARP member, more catalogs would appear from other companies as well. I didn’t realize just how much I missed getting catalogs in the mail. Great bathroom reading and mindless reading. The 21st Century internet killed mail order catalogs. To this day I miss reading my Campmor catalogs. And what about the Big Green Book that Toys R Us used to send out right before Thanksgiving?

Alas, as I sat looking through the Miles Kimball Catalog my mood slowly began to sink. This was a catalog for OLD people! Here are some of the items that I had the pleasure of perusing: an easy- grip spatula, a ring pull (to open zip tops on cans if you have arthritis), a corn cobber (for those with false choppers), a rain hat with a brim so that the lady in your life doesn’t ruin her hairdo, an escape hammer so that I can break car glass after I run off the road into the lake, sexy slippers in many styles for my bride of 35 years. Shall I go on? Okay a couple more. How about a toe straighter to cure gnarly hammer toes, a checkbook calculator (what is a check?), quilted furniture covers and clear plastic ones too! Okay last one, ready? A personalized Social Security blanket. So, I never forget that magic number.

I could go on and on, but why depress you too? Give me that Big Green Book, a Victoria Secrets Catalog (so I’m a dreamer, shoot me), Coldwater Creek, Campmor, even a Macy’s Catalog!

I’M NOT OLD YET!