378 & 377

Watched Frontline last night and it was supposed to just be about immigration and how Trump has used it as a weapon in maintaining power & control over actions and events in his administration. But there was something very different presented that helps to explain a lot of what is going on now.

Steve Bannon was a featured speaker throughout the program. He started off explaining how he, Stephen Miller and Jeff Sessions formed an unlikely band of brothers to create a new and different approach to politics. Their goal was to take down the REPUBLICAN establishment and create something new in its place. Yes, I’ve repeated what he said – the Republicans. They targeted Eric Cantor in the 2014 mid terms and succeeded in ousting him from office – the second most powerful Republican in the House. How’d they do it? Breitbart and related social media. Why’d they do it? Because Cantor was allegedly ‘soft’ on immigration.

Then they decided that they needed a candidate for president in order to carry out their nefarious plans – and who better than an imperfect (his word, not mine) but nonetheless malleable (my word, not his) candidate like Donald Trump.

So they do everything in their power – with the help of the Russians – to destroy Hillary and boost Trump. We all know how that turned out. But somewhere along the line, their Frankenstein monster creation turned on two of them – and you know which two. Now there’s only the creepy Stephen Miller to whisper in Trump’s ear to toe the line on immigration – and likely a few other topics as well.

Now everybody – including those three amigos that created this mess – is finding out that those imperfections are causing chaos and mayhem in Washington with impeachment as the inevitable end. Did they really think they could control him? Apparently so – or maybe all this is okay with them, because destruction is the ultimate goal. But what if they take the country down with them? They’ll find someone else to blame. That is evil incarnate. My only consolation is karma – which is or will be visited on all of them for their actions. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of losers. But out of the ashes of the old will arise a new – and hopefully better country. At least I hope so.

379

I watched Watchman last night on HBO and frankly, I was baffled by it. I did the homework – got briefed on the comic book plots of old – but the fundamentals of the plot seemed very confusing.

It is set in the future – which is really the present, because the comic books ended in the late 80’s and it’s supposed to be in the same time frame but an alternate universe where history changed because of the emergence of superheroes that allowed the US to win the Viet Nam war and cover up Watergate? Are you kidding me?

The original story was supposedly a satire of superhero comic books, so it would appear the author – a very odd looking gentleman – wanted to say that the help of superheroes makes bad things happen. So in episode 1, there are still a couple of superheroes, only one of whom seems to be featured. The bad guys appear to be White Supremacists, but they seem to only target the police – huh?

Here’s what I think – this guy making the series – Damon Lindelof – had a couple of hits in Lost and The Leftovers. Interesting to note that after a couple episodes of both shows, I lost interest – so at least I’m consistent here. But here’s my point – he had successes with these two shows, so now he has a big budget and a lot of stars – guaranteed success, right?

I suppose – but the best review I saw was on CNET, which pointed out how this version has grossly departed from the original material, leaving it intact and moving forward in time from the Tulsa massacre in the 20’s to present day..so setting it in Oklahoma makes it – yes, a western! Bad guys fighting decent lawmen, aided by secret superheroes..yeah, well, maybe it’ll get better.

The CNET review compared it to West World, and that makes sense to me, since HBO had a lot of success with that series. So what we have here is HBO trying to use the same format but instead of life-like robots, we have people with special skills. I’m confident there will be lots of plot twists and turns, like all the other work mentioned above. I’m also pretty sure they’ll lose me after the next episode – like they lost Don Johnson after this one. Que sera sera…

381 & 380

Let’s take a break from all the DtheT/crazier bashing and talk about something else – say Brexit and Mr. Glass..

Credit must be given to Boris Johnson for giving it the old college try in persuading a Parliament that clearly loathes EVERYBODY to vote for his NEW AND IMPROVED! version of an agreement with the EU. But, alas, it came to naught, as Parliament wouldn’t support it. As John Adams said about the Continental Congress debating the Declaration of Independence, The Consequence of this is, that Business is drawn and spun out to an immeasurable Length. I believe if it was moved and seconded that We should come to a Resolution that Three and two make five We should be entertained with Logick and Rhetorick, Law, History, Politicks and Mathematicks, concerning the Subject for two whole Days, and then We should pass the Resolution unanimously in the Affirmative.

But in this case, I doubt Parliament could pass a resolution on the topic – it would likely be split, invoking quantum physics and alternate universes. So what does Boris do? He sends the formal request to the EU, invoking Parliament’s wishes for an extension, and then slapped a cover letter on it telling them not to approve it. Now you gotta admit, that’s ballsy!

They need a second referendum, but they’re afraid to have one, because they know Brexit would be soundly defeated, and they would have wasted three years trying to make it so. Now that’s what I call a mess!

Then there’s the HBO 8:00 movie of the week, Mr. Glass. Having watched the other two in the series – Unbreakable and Split, which were fairly good, I was expecting something better than what was presented by M. Night. It was achingly slow, repetitive, with no buildup of tension and an obvious subplot that anybody with half a noodle could see coming. But it’ll likely make another $300 million for the studio – because anything in a franchise draws in you young whippersnappers. Please – develop some discernment and taste!

After it was over, Brother John and I watched the last 40 minutes of Chinatown. Now that was a movie. I would argue Robert Towne’s screenplay for that film is the finest piece of writing for the movies ever! Only The English Patient as prose and Lincoln in the Bardo as – I don’t know what! – beats his writing. And that’s saying something..both were shortlisted for the best of the best – the 50th anniversary Booker prize award. Ms. Margaret Atwood just shared it with another woman this year, of course for The Testaments. Haven’t read it yet..will do so after I finish the Clemmie book, retitled Heaven is a House in South Miami. Coming soon..

383 & 382

So much has happened in the last couple of days, it’s hard to know where to start. But if you’re reading this, you already know what’s happened. The question really in need of asking is: what will the consequences be?

The Two Mikes went to Turkey and allegedly persuaded Erdogan to pause in the fighting to allow the Kurds to ‘escape’ the disputed area. Problem 1: nobody has stopped shooting. Problem 2: with held from Russian and Syrian government troops, the Kurds are not exactly motivated to leave – the fighters will stay and civilians will go – but go where?

There’s really nowhere to go for these women and children who have made their home in northeast Syria for the past five years – peacefully, I might add. Problem 3: all those freed ISIS fighters, formerly the enemy of these people who are supposed to be fleeing – where will they go and are they really the formidable fighting force talking heads have described? What if they are just young guys looking to make a few bucks and get a woman without having to take a bath or shave? Maybe they can be persuaded to – at least temporarily – help out the new group who aren’t just the Kurds any more. They’re the Russian/Isis/Syrian/Kurds – aha! They’re RISK! I like it!

It’s gonna get weirder. But I think the guy with all the cards right now is Mitch McConnell. He – likely for the first time since the 2016 election – holds DtheT/crazier’s short ones in his hands. I’m pretty sure he’d like to see Pence in there instead of the current occupant. Wouldn’t surprise me if Pence and McConnell make a quiet deal and Mitch persuades another 15 or so Republican Senators that they can successfully impeach DtheT/c and Pence the Pure will take over – and owe everything to Wily Coyote, AKA Mitch McConnell. And the plot thickens for SITWW (you know – Survivor in the West Wing)…

384

According to this morning’s Politico, the Republican Senators are now sucking Trump’s..uh..toes, again..No need for sanctions – Trump has sanctioned Turkey’s steel – you know, the commodity that represents 1/4 of 1% of all our imports and 7% of steel imports. In other words, no biggie..nothing to see here..move along.

Somehow I knew this plot line in Survivor in the West Wing, the current reality series we’re living in, would be a bust; we’ll move on to something new: how all these ‘windtalkers’ at the impeachment inquiry will be punished for their disloyalty. That got me thinking about something a little closer to home..the fact that Erik and I as retirees, collectively get a little less than half our retirement income from Social Security. What if that were to go away – how long could we last and what would we do?

These issues are addressed a bit in my second book of the pentalogy; the one called And Forbid Them Not. My protagonist is musing over a similar situation.

“Julia realized at once it was likely all the government’s departments were now putting out bogus information – and had been for months.  But she wasn’t going to talk about that with Nate – even though he was a friend.  She worried that her government pension checks might mysteriously go awry – and an investigation would likely take a long time .. if not forever.  She smiled at Nate as he was wrapping up her two hoses.  “Maybe things will get better.”

How many times have I heard my family and friends say that? Erik always references the 60’s and Viet Nam as a worse time in America. But we were young then, more worried about the draft then the fate of democracy. Joining a protest could get your head bashed in – or maybe get you shot & killed like at Kent State. But as youngsters, we didn’t take it too much to heart. Somehow we always knew things would get better.

The iconic picture from that terrible day

But now we’re old and reliant on the government. If half our income could disappear – through changes in legislation or just plain snafu – then we need an escape plan. We could sell our house, but could we live on the proceeds in relative comfort for the rest of our lives? If Medicare went away, could we afford decent health care? Guess this harkens back to my previous post: there, but for fortune, go you or I. But fortune in the current regime could and is likely to disappear. When the growing deficit makes the rest of the world less likely to buy our debt – or worse, decide to sell it en masse, austerity would be forced on us. And the easiest cuts to make? Raid the Social Security trust fund and cut or eliminate Medicare. Since boomers are no longer the biggest voting block, who would push back on that? Certainly not millennials, who are keenly aware that by the time they reach retirement age, the fund will be bust.

So this could – and will likely – happen. Ouch. Children – we’re moving in with you. It’s payback time.

386 & 385

Blast! Lost another day somewhere along the line..you’d think I’d still be able to count at my age, but alas, apparently not.

I have reconnected with another old friend from the past – her name is Susan Z, and we were friends in 7th grade. My neighborhood got rezoned to another junior high for 8th grade and we lost touch. Sue, as she is now called, was a wonderful friend and a genuinely good person. I think she has kept those attributes into adulthood, which is nice to see, but I have to recount a story from that era that I vividly recall.

My family was supposed to move to Ocala where Dad was running my deceased maternal grandfather’s beer distributing business. Sue threw a going away, surprise party for me – only one of two surprise parties I ever had in my ife. Sadly, my mother forgot about it, and my sister and I went off on a trip with my paternal grandfather. So there was a party – but no me. I was horrified to find out about it when we returned.

Well, Sue, if you’re reading this, that was the story..but we never moved to Ocala. My father ran the beer business into insolvency with his grandiose plans that were a trifle shady. My mother found out he was having an affair with his secretary (tacky, eh?) and they got a divorce. Our subsequent life was one of cover-up and deception, as we were dead broke. Dear old dad failed to provide much if any form of support and mom found more solace in vodka and dating married men than in finding a job. But I was fortunate to find that my brother’s best friend liked me. We got married, put each other through school and both became civil engineers. We had good careers and provided a decent, stable life for our three children. After fifty one years, we’re still together and happy.

But I never forgot about that party that didn’t include me. Thank you,Sue, for being a good friend and hopefully not getting mad about my not being there.

388 & 387

Yesterday we had a picnic over at Jopie’s apartment complex by the intracoastal. Kiernan played in the water for hours, barely stopping to have a drink and a bite. Not sure she ever even ate dinner..couple of kids there to play with, so she was in heaven.

Speaking of heaven, Martha Backer nee Kaplan and I have been talking about the books over Facebook Messenger…she is a most insightful gal..I wish I’d known her better in high school. She made the point that she figured people would kill their children in order to be free of them to continue their dysfunctional lifestyle with opioids and such. Instead, I’ve depicted infanticide as an act of love, induced by a cult leader’s, for lack of a better word, brainwashing. But the idea of a person like my main character in book 1 meeting an unholy death trying to warn people about the evils of cult leaders was a raw deal. I agreed with her.

We talk about how the system is rigged against people who are referred to as the ‘lower classes’, but frankly, that could be any of us; there but for fortune, which in time may run out. The leader of the cult, aided and abetted by evangelical preachers, often with mendacious motive, convinced frightened people to do the unthinkable.

Rather that the Sunday school version of the quote from Matthew 19, where Jesus likes to pat kids on the head, next to the lambs and baby goats, the evangelical slant is quite different. The notion is that only innocent children can enter heaven, because adults are too corrupted unless they sell everything and follow him. But time has run out to do that. So to spare their children from being corrupted – and killed as a result of climate change – their parents give them a sleeping death with opioids and

antifreeze. Tell me that could never happen here? Time will tell.

389

The Survivor in the West Wing series is coming along nicely; the writers are working feverishly on the Senate Sanctions part of the plot; talking heads are exploding and we’re all getting so engrossed in it, we forget important things: things like Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is always a big holiday around here..we try to gather as much family as possible – even friends – and put together an exhaustive menu that we can never quite pull off. So each year, afterward, I say, “Next year we’ll simply the thing.” But we never do. So once again, I say: this year the menu will be simpler. Here’s a first cut at it:

Boar’s Head Appetizer Platter

Julia Child’s Turkey and Dressing

Homemade (ahead) Cranberry Sauce

Leg of Lamb, cooked on a new ceramic grill (the two standard gas grills we have are completely worn out)

Mashed Potatoes with Giblet Gravy without the Giblets (nobody likes ’em – and of course the mashed potatoes are home made – none of this pre-packaged stuff that tastes like paste)

Caesar Salad with homemade dressing and croutons (that always goes first and Jamie likes it)

Green Bean Casserole made with canned green beans (I’ve tried blanching fresh & making white sauce, but you can’t tell the difference from canned and immersion in Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup..I’ll just add some sauteed fresh mushrooms..remember, simplify!)

Homemade pickles and mushrooms (made ahead – not together)

Parker House rolls (popovers take too hot an oven; crescent rolls never seem to get sufficiently done…simplify, simplify..OK, maybe Sister Schubert’s frozen parker house rolls instead of generic brown & serve in the paper container)

Pumpkin Pie

Lemon Acorn Cakes with Vanilla Sauce and Strawberries on the Side (Kiernan will make this)

Apple Pie & Madeleines (Emily’s specialty)

All that seems perfectly doable – with everyone’s help…?

391 & 390

There are so many things going on, it’s hard to choose just one to write about. Rudy’s boys got themselves arrested, but he thinks Omerta will save him..and he may have a point if the money they’re throwing around came from the Russians. They have a bad habit of balancing the books – with very poisonous pens.

But instead, let’s talk about DtheT/Crazier giving the green light to Erdogan to venture into northern Syria to wipe out the Kurds. They’ve tried that in the past, even before our boys were present, and they got their butts kicked. They’ve come back with a vengeance this time, so they won’t make that mistake again. But there are several flies in the outmeal. One fly is 10,000 Isis prisoners being held captive in an area current being shelled. The prison has already been hit once; another couple of rounds, and they’ll be running all over the landscape like an escaped flea circus. Another fly is Turkish artillerymen’s bad aim with their heavy guns; they nearly hit the ‘pulled back’ American SF troops that were not in the designated area. Bad move, boys. Finally, there’s the question of whether anyone else will help the Kurds. How about the Iraqis? They’ve been making nice with the Kurds lately..but they’ve got their own problems and don’t need to get involved. Russia? They want to be everybody’s favorite country to deal with, including Turkey’s. But maybe a deal can be made between Turkey, Assad and the Kurds that makes everybody happy, and makes Putin look like a statesman. I’d be willing to bet on that outcome. But how many Kurds will have to die before he steps in with the magic solution? Enough to make it look real. Remember, people, we’re all just living in a reality TV series, so we need some … wait for it … DRAMATIC TENSION! …to increase the ratings.

And will the Republican Senate slap serious sanctions on Turkey? That plot line needs work, so put the writers in the room for a while to make it even more interesting to us viewers of this episode of Survivor in the West Wing.

392

The kids are off from school today – in the middle of the week? Yes, it’s Yom Kippur, even tho’ they don’t call it the Yom Kippur holiday on the school calendar. But if Christians can have Christmas off, then Jewish kids can have Yom Kippur off. Anyway, I’m going to get Emily to finish up the illustrations for Let Them Come Unto Me so I can get it shipped off to Amazon and start on my really challenging book entitled Clemmie. More on that later.