Showing posts with label Donald Trump. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Donald Trump. Show all posts

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dark Ages Descending


This is for readers who regularly visit this blog, an explanation why my theatre reviews will cease, hopefully only for a while, and my writing in general will be curtailed.  I hope this is merely an “intermission.”  COVID-19 is the reason.  My wife and I have decided to begin immediate social distancing, and this includes the activities I’ll go as far to say defines our very existence.

Since writing a draft of this entry, everything is being appropriately cancelled anyhow. We love all things cultural, but these are extensive social activities and until this pandemic gets under control, we and presumably many of you, are staying in place, nearly hostages of our home.  It means not going to NYC, where my heart is, and the area our two sons and daughter-in-law live.  It looks almost certain we will miss celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary there with family and attending the 50th anniversary of Sondheim’s Company, one of my favorite shows.  It opened on our wedding day.  Our “kids” surprised us with tickets for that very day.  But compared to sacrifices other families will be forced to make, and some with serious economic consequences as well, it is something we accept.

Regional theatres will be cancelling their productions. They are particularly vulnerable and those of us who have subscriptions, and we have several, will be asked to donate them back to the theatre rather than asking for a refund. They need our support to survive and if you care about the future of the performing arts, it would be wise to donate and not refund.

More than three years ago, when I was writing more about the serious deficiencies in Donald Trump’s experience and psychological nature to handle the responsibilities of the Presidency, I said (Feb. 16, 2017) “I merely thought [his] behavior ‘crazy making’ but it may be more -- preparation for almost anything, totalitarian rule by the Plutocracy, religious wars, the demolition of the Republic, a nuclear winter, or all rolled up into the Trumpocalypse….Instinctively, even if we survive we all know this will not end well.  I hope I am very wrong, and that the next four years will be bigly amazing, devoid of losers, with tremendous, terrific winners, but I fear it’s not gonna happen, zero percent.”

As long as he was riding on the coattails of international agreements made over decades before, and had the rising economic prosperity that was already underway before he became President, my secret hope was we might stagger to the finish line of November 2020, no matter what he does. But he was ill prepared to handle a truly national Black Swan emergency. 

His failures relating to COVID-19 have again exposed him as a worthless incompetent, now with very serious consequences. His Oval Office speech was incoherent and lacked what we needed to hear: how the Federal government was going to provide massive support for our medical infrastructure, and the resources needed to ramp up immediate testing, more ICU beds and ventilators, protection for our medical personnel, as well as concrete guidelines for social distancing in the midst of this crisis.

As he said when this crisis was first gaining attention, he didn’t want that cruise ship off the west coast to dock because the COVID-19 “numbers would go up,” the implication that it makes HIM look bad.  If there ever was a case for impeachment it is this:  his failure to take this seriously, listen to the experts, and take actions to protect the American people, all of which is an egregious breach of his Presidential responsibilities.  So, instead of a “nuclear winter” we have a COVID-19 winter ahead.

The thrust of his speech was to build a figurative wall across the Atlantic that will somehow protect us from Europe. This virus is not only already here, but is probably many-fold pervasive than reported.  Ironically, while he was talking about keeping people out of the country from those areas (and even that was unclear), a JetBlue plane was landing from NYC at Palm Beach Airport (his and my airport too), with an elderly man who had just tested positive for COVID-19 and after feeling ill during the flight a medical emergency was declared.  After landing he and his wife were deplaned, while the other 100 passengers were delayed for 2-3 hours as I guess officials were wondering what to do.  Refuel it and make it circle as a cruise ship? In the absence of guidelines, they released all the passengers into the general population and advised them to contact local health officials if they felt ill.  We know symptoms may not manifest themselves for weeks, so all these passengers are now free to mingle throughout our area with no self quarantining or monitoring?   This is how such a virus spreads like wild fire.

Trump’s address did nothing to ameliorate this crisis.  He may even have exacerbated it as he mumbled meaningless measures from the teleprompter.  He likes to use the stock market as a barometer of his “winning.” How’s that going, Mr. President?

Meanwhile, back in the fall I had explained that my I was working on a second book which although derivative from my blog would be highly edited and focused.  This has been slowly and painstakingly moving forward although in the shadow of COVID-19 everything seems pretty meaningless.  But this is the culmination of a my work for decades, so I feel compelled to follow through, and now I will turn to it more full time.  Hopefully, by the time it is published, probably spring or summer, this crisis will be a fading memory (doubtful) and we will all be able to return to a semblance of our former BC (Before C-19) lives.

I have a final title, ISBN and a nearly final structure: Explaining It to Someone: Learning From the Arts ISBN: 978-0-578-65465-2.  It is much larger than my prior work.  Here is a tentative blurb:

“This is a companion work to “Waiting for Someone to Explain It: The Rise of Contempt and the Decline of Sense” (Lacunae Musing, 2019) which focused on the political and economic landscape at the beginning of the 21st century.  While I was writing about those issues, I was also writing about what I was personally experiencing in my cultural life, particularly the literature, music, and theatre of the same period.  If I was seeking “answers” in my previous work from politicians or economists, perhaps better clues can be found in the works of some of our most creative people.  I think of them as our greatest philosophers.

Unlike most other works of literary or theatrical examination, this one is clearly idiosyncratic.  The works covered are tied together by the unique thread of my own life and times.  Sometimes I wonder whether I chose these works, or whether they chose me. Hundreds of dramatic and literary works are reviewed, along with impressions of musical performances and composers, mostly focused on the genres of The Great American Songbook and Jazz.

Together, these give a unique view of our times as well as a much needed respite from the economic and political morass we find ourselves in at the beginning of the 21st century.”

So while my blog will be relatively quiet, this is what I’m working on.  I’m hoping to resume my theatre work when and if the coast is clear.  I also hope anyone who reads this stays safe and avoids this virus.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Self Immolation of the Democratic Party


I am breaking my oath of not wanting to write more about politics, one originally made out of self preservation, the Trump Presidency being so egregiously offensive and yet so blindly praised by his obedient, ardent followers, that it was affecting my health.  It was also made out of extreme cynicism about the whole process, where Tweeting 240 characters can replace planning, thinking.  I’m stunned that our country has stumbled along this far under Trump’s monarchy, but I suppose it has been conditioned to respond well to reality TV material.

But as time went on, and we got through another day, my spirits were slowly being revived knowing that before we know it, we, the American People, will have a chance to cast him off to the garbage heap of dangerous politicians and demagogues.  This, in spite of the failures of Robert Mueller and the Impeachment process, both “hail Mary” passes into the end zone.  Yes, the upcoming election will right all.

Until last night. In full disclosure, my degree of cynicism made me ignore all previous debates.  What is the sense listening to a score of candidates blab their talking points.  Now that the “race” is down to a more manageable number, perhaps this was the moment when I hoped a moderate Democrat could gather some momentum.  Instead, we’re still left with Bernie Sanders, perhaps even more so.

Don’t get me wrong.  I “like” Bernie in many ways, but, as unrealistic as Trump’s tax cuts were, I think Sanders’ proposals will just further drive the national debt to unsustainable levels.  And he is as evangelistic in his demeanor about it as Trump has been about his border issue.  Just what we need facing off in November, two “true believers,” with one being able to call the other a “socialist” or a “communist,” terms as scary to the American electorate as “atheist.”

Bloomberg’s response under the attack by Elizabeth Warren regarding non-disclosure agreements his company may have because of sexual harassment or discrimination issues surprised me.  He should have immediately turned his ire on the legal system rather than trying to respond to her.  In an organization the size of Bloomberg’s, and the ease with which employees can bring suits, there will always be these. Actually, it's a perfect segue to arguing for tort reform.

In any case, it makes no sense for me to analyze the fine differences between the so called “moderate” Democrats (I think all have their hearts in the right place though), but my point is the Democrats are failing to set themselves up strategically.  If they think they can win with Bernie on the ticket, I anticipate a Trump reelection.  My ideal ticket would be along the lines of an Amy Klobuchar for President and someone such as Cory Booker as VP.  My thinking is strictly strategic and with the focus on beating DJT, nothing else.  I know this sounds heedless and cynical, but given how our futures have been compromised, and the Presidency devalued by Trump, that should be the singular goal of the Democratic Party.

Friday, November 1, 2019

“He Died Like a Dog”


When I write in this space I attempt to avoid political topics.  But sometimes you get to the point of screaming invectives and this is the only place to rationally collect thoughts and get it all out.

My over-the-edge moment was the language that DJT used to describe the Special Forces operation to take down al-Baghdadi.

I wanted to wait for the exact transcript to be published to make sure I heard what I thought I did.  Courtesy of NPR, here is some of what he said, as well as my reactions.

We thought, for three days, this is what was going to happen. It was actually — look, nobody was even hurt. Our K-9, as they call — I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog — was injured and brought back. But we had no soldier injured. And they did a lot of shooting, and they did a lot of blasting, even not going through the front door. You know, you would think you go through the door. If you're a normal person, you say, "Knock, knock. May I come in?" The fact is that they blasted their way into the house and a very heavy wall, and it took them literally seconds. By the time those things went off, they had a beautiful, big hole, and they ran in and they got everybody by surprise.

I call it a dog?  A beautiful dog?  A talented dog?  A lot of shooting, a lot of blasting, you would think you go through the door? Knock, knock, may I come in?  A beautiful, big hole?

He was asked how did he see exactly what happened.

Well, I don't want to say how, but we had absolutely perfect — as though you were watching a movie. It was — that — the technology there alone is really great.

Watching a movie?  Really great?

Then, the self congratulatory moments:

I kept saying, ‘Where's al-Baghdadi?’ And a couple of weeks ago, they were able to scope him out. You know, these people are very smart. They're not into the use of cell phones anymore. They're not — they're very technically brilliant. You know, they use the Internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump. But they use the Internet incredibly well… and that's why he died like a dog, he died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming, and crying.

They use the Internet better than anybody…[but] Donald Trump?  He died like a dog?  (I get it, colloquial street talk but an insult to dogs everywhere!)

All the late night TV shows have made appropriate comic fodder of it all.  But this is the President of the United States talking aimlessly, irresponsibly, putting himself front and center of a very dangerous but successful mission.

DJT is obviously not a “dog person.”  Although dogs love unconditionally, it would be hard even for them to warm up to such a person.

Our last dog, Treat, a Miniature Schnauzer who was born on Halloween, and thus her name, was ill for a year before she died.  We took her to vets, even for Acupuncture.  But we could see it was a losing battle and she did too.  She looked at us with mournful eyes one day, lying in her bed.  We agreed we had to end her pain and ours.  This decision was made on, of all days, the very day we were going to my mother’s funeral.  We called the Veterinarian before we left to bring her in afterwards to euthanize her as we did our last Schnauzer, something we never wanted to go through again.  But it was time.  When we got back from the funeral, she had just passed away, peacefully in her bed, almost as a gift to us.  We still miss her so much.

DJT’s entire speech and press conference revealed a person who lacks the characteristics of man’s best friend, loyalty, gentleness, affection, and courageousness.  Thankfully, a dog had our Special Forces’ back.  Trump’s elementary school level oratory abilities alone expose his lack of leadership skills, as well as his severely damaged psyche.  This is not the behavior of a President of the United States.  And it makes me fearful of ever having to face an immediate national crisis on his watch. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

It’s Time to Rumble


Before the Democrats destroy themselves in their debates, here’s my 2 cents so I can look back and remind myself how wrong I was.

The Democratic Party must strategize, not so the “best” man/woman runs against Trump, but so the most electable ticket is running.  The priority is to defeat someone who should not have been elected in the first place, a confluence of events which perfectly came together to elect the unelectable.  One can simply list these, the modern-day enigma of the Electoral College, the bogus Russian inspired Facebook accounts which spewed propaganda into swing states, Wiki Leaks, team Trump’s nescient campaign tactics (e.g. the meeting with the Russians), Hillary’s arrogance not campaigning in rust belt states, Comey’s eleventh hour reversal on Hillary’s email, and one could go on to document Clinton’s popular vote Pyrrhic victory, while going down where it counts in the Electoral College.  I tried to detail them following the election more than two years ago. 

So if that was the result, how to reverse it in 2020?  The Democrats seem to live in a MSNBC echo chamber.  Biden is the “safe” candidate while Elizabeth Warren seems to be emerging as the progressive favorite.  I worry about Biden in a head to head with Trump.  Yes, he’ll say all the right things. Everyone on MSNBC agrees upon the non-Presidential nature of Trump, that he is corrupt, a liar, and an embarrassment in the international community.  The retort to that was emblazoned on someone’s tee shirt I saw on TV at Trump’s recent Orlando rally: “I didn’t elect a Saint.”  They don’t care.  They feel that Trump is the first politician who has their backs; how ironic is that given he was born with a tarnished silver spoon and has lavished his rich friends with most of the “benefits” of his presidency.

Elizabeth Warren on the other hand is not the “safe” candidate, but sort of like the hand grenade Trump was in 2016.  But will it explode in the Democrat’s faces?  Dare they chance it?  Trump has already branded her a “socialist.” Have the Trump supporters ever considered SOCIAL Security, public schools, Medicare, Medicaid, and all the benefits they would never want taken away (oh, except Medicaid if it was needed by the good-for-nothing unemployed or indigent).  Warren would be tougher on the financial system which is gamed to benefit those who are part of the Plutocracy.  But is that going to bring out the rust belt voter?  If she runs for President, the now favorite Trump mantra will be emblazoned in our brains, “Freedom vs. Socialism,” 24 x 7, Fox and Friends, taking up the cause.   

I’m hoping for a candidate from the “flyover” country and I’m focusing on Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, Governor Steve Bullock of Montana, or Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, all more moderate candidates from fly-over states, ones who can drain some of the on the fence Republican voters, capture the independents, and retain the Democratic base.  Pragmatism over idealism. Perhaps someone such as Kamala Harris would run as the VP on the ticket to satisfy the more progressive minds and get a woman on the ticket.  In other words, I’m simply hoping for a WINNING ticket against Trump and all he symbolizes. 

Warren vs. Trump might be fun in the Twitter universe, but I’d be concerned about what people would do in the privacy of the voting booth.  How many people are there, who were Republican, and now call themselves “Independents” and who claim they detest Trump personally but are sympathetic to his “accomplishments” (like what, stacking SOTUS with conservatives)?  I’m not saying a fly-over candidate is going to win all these people over, but some?  Especially in the important swing states? 

In any case, this is a rumble, a gang war coming up.  Grab your zip guns even though they have AR-15s. Confront him with the least assailable ticket.
 

P.S.  Coincidentally, a MarketWatch article published the day after I wrote this sort of underscores the argument :  “If [Warren is] the Democratic nominee, that may help Trump, too. Politicians from Massachusetts generally blow presidential elections, and always for the same reason. They can’t campaign in Middle America.” The opinion is based on shifts in the betting odds. Money on the line beats any poll and the Democrats, as in 2016, may be taking this for granted, especially with a far left of center candidate from a Blue coastal State.