Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Trump's Second Term

          Donald Trump is on a path to re-election and all indications are that he has a good shot at a second term.  The economy  is better than it’s been in years and unemployment is at a record low of 4.3% -  the best in 16 years.  Trump already has $17 million earmarked for the next campaign because in politics, the only thing that matters is getting re-elected.  Forget Nazis, pussy-grabbing, and Russia.  All indications are that Trump can and may have another four years.
            “It’s the economy, stupid,” – the mantra of the Democratic party in the 90s – still holds true and we fail to see this, tearing our hair out over bigotry and trans-gender prejudice when voters ultimately only care about how they and their families are doing.  Trump was elected by the marginalized working class and they forgave a multitude of horrors to elect someone who would get them to work.  And he has.  This is all that matters I assure you.
            While we fixate on and twitter about his ghastly amorality, working folks in the Rust Belt are likely pretty okay with where we’re headed.  Social issues do not matter in the long run to people who can’t pay the mortgage.  It’s the economy, stupid, and politics is based on emotion not fact.  The greatest driver of voter support is not hate, love, or anything in between.  It’s jobs.  We haven’t even begun to address the unheard popular majority who elected Trump in the first place.
            Who’s going to elect Trump the second time?  Well, you are.  When was the last time you voted in a primary election?  The fact is that only 20% of registered voters bother to show up for primary elections and of course this is where we make the most important choices.  Eighty-percent of us stay home during the primaries, lazy and disengaged (as we remain, despite our self-aggrandizing high minded moralistic FB rhetoric).  Democrats and Republicans trot out a panoply of mostly spineless politicians, we ignore the primary process and then rail at the lousy choice we have.  The plurality of registered voters (42%)  in the US are “independent” or unaffiliated voters, like me.  In most states, independents can’t vote in a primary election.  Here’s what you don’t know:  to vote in a primary all you have to do is affiliate with a party “x” number of days (check your state law.  Stop being “outraged” and lazy.) before the primary.  So, if there’s an excellent candidate in either party, I will simply become a member of that party before the primary, vote for that person, and then switch back to being unaffiliated because frankly, both parties make my skin crawl. 
            The “meat” of a party’s base support are those rabid fundamentalists on both sides.  They always show up.  They are blindly devoted and will pull that lever for (R) or (D) no matter what.  The rest of us stay home and we end up with chumps like Trump.  In a perfect world, everyone would be registered as an Independent and then politicians would have to scramble to figure out how to get re-elected.  Right now, all our representatives have to do is appeal to those who always show up, the devout twenty percent.
            This is why Trump will get re-elected.  Very few people understand the civics of voting in this country and most would rather watch SNL mock our “leaders” than get involved in electing decent people.  I don’t see the Democrats making any headway in repairing the colossal screw up of pushing Bernie Sanders off the podium so their inflated ego-driven party could score the next “first.”  Hubris writ huge, the Dems got what they deserved and we got the president we deserve.  We are a lazy and self-indulgent electorate.  You post some righteous anger on FB and think you’re all that, but where are you on primary day?  Where are you 30 or 60 days before primary day when you should register with either party that you want to support?  Oh wait, you’re on Facebook screaming about the haters.  Nicely done.
            I’m personally outraged because I’ve seen this coming since 2010 when I ran a congressional tea party campaign in the third district of Colorado.  While deeply disagreeing with 90% of what my candidate stood for (it was a family thing), I saw first- hand how the masses and the media mocked the Tea Party.  Disdain, scorn, cartoons, SNL, laughter abounded but nobody really listened to them.  I met thousands of “tea party” folks and guess what?  They were mostly terrified grandparents.  They felt lost, forgotten and unheard. They were worried about their future and their grandkids’ future.  So, while you were busy laughing at Sarah Palin they were busy getting to the primaries.  It’s exactly as Mahatma Ghandi told us:  First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
            And they’ll win again if we don’t listen to what’s important:  jobs and family security.  Period.  I’m a kid of the 60s and 70s so of course I know there’s nothing more crucial than civil rights and social justice but these high minded and deeply important principals do not get people elected.  Jobs get people into the Oval and onto Capitol Hill where everyone hangs pictures and then immediately starts planning for reelection.
            Your moral outrage is useless unless you know how to register for and vote in a primary.  Please stop tweeting your high-minded bullshit and figure out how to educate people about this fact:  eighty percent of us do nothing and don’t care enough to figure out what we learned in fourth grade.
            I’ll give you a total pass if you can answer these questions: (1) when do you have to register as a party-affiliate in your state in order to vote in a primary; and (2) when was the last time you voted in a primary?  If you don’t know the answer to #1 and #2 is “never,” then it’s Donald Trump in 2020.  Take it to the bank.  That's where people vote.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Yo Scaramucci. How Bout You Shut Up?

Hey Tony.  If I was sitting next to you at Sunday dinner I’d smack you so hard on the back of the head it would make your kids dizzy.  What a dumb ass you are.  You get a seat at the big boy table and what do you do? Put your Guido aviator shades on and act like you’re in waste management in the Bronx rather than the goddamn White House.  You better hope my Aunt Rita doesn’t run into you cause I’ll tell you what brother: we Italians are not happy with you and you know what happens when the family’s not happy.
            So, your narcissistic bully boss – from another ethnic background of some kind – pulls you in, you know,  close to the vest and Tony-Soprano-like “hey ho yo”, grabbing at your balls and being all tough guy. And Trump says Yo Tony kill the leaks, man! Make ‘em all shut the f—up”! and you swear some inane mafia-type oath about being loyal to him and firing people and you bring your stupid New York WOP act to DC.  Thanks a lot jack ass.
            Sit down and shut up and listen to me and I don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t want to hear about my grandparents from Avellino in Italy who came to Philly and worked as bricklayers, tailors, and shop owners so that their kids – my parents – could go to college, and become, doctors (like my Dad and uncle) and nurses (my Mom) and make each generation better.  And yes, Italians were seen as louds, stupid, greasy, dirty people - the image you so readily portray, thanks very much.  Just when Italians could go quietly back to our raucous and happy family-centric lives, you show up and it’s right back to the stereotypical bombastic idiot Italian, a White House press secretary who doesn’t even know what “on the record” means.  Madonna Mia.  Italians have about fifty different words for stupid and you measure up to every one of them.
            I can appreciate the notion that you “want to be yourself” but don’t.  Your self sucks.  Your knucklehead boss is of the same ilk – oh, I’m just gonna be me.  Both your personalities are just terrible, dude.  Hide it.  Don’t be the strutting street corner thug you think you are.  Class it up, asshole.  Lots of immigrants have learned this:  dial it down when you’re around white people.  And the White House is full of those, so act like a grown up – you mameluke – and try to find a measure of dignity and smarts.  Not sure you have either, but on behalf of Italians everywhere, I’m telling you – not asking – to knock off the “made guy” routine.
            Somebody had to write about this.  The minute I saw your name and heard you open my mouth I was like “oh f--- me.  Here it goes. A Scarammuchi in the White House who thinks he’s all that.”  You’re not all that, Tony.  You know what you are?  A disgrace to every hard- working Italian-American who honors the hard-working ancestors that got us here.  You think surgeons, lawyers, teachers, business owners of Italian descent just act any way they want?  You think anybody does?  There are freaking rules of civility you stupidone.  Put the hair gel away and learn them. You want to be all mouthy schmooz boy?  Save that for your friends, you feckless braggart.  And don’t even think about Sunday dinner.  My little Aunt Rita would kick your ass.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Remember that scene from the original Rocky when emotionally stunted Sylvester Stallone invites his equally stunted potential gal Adrienne up the aged steps of his South Philly row home?  She’s down on the sidewalk, kind of toeing at the ground trying to decide whether to ascend to this crazy man’s place (where he will eventually introduce her to his turtles, Cuff and Link).  He gets angry with her reluctance, slams the wall and says something like, Whatsa matter?  Does my house STINK?
            I worry about the same damn thing as Rocky.  How do you know if your own house stinks if no one else lives there?  When I was raising three boys I KNEW my house stunk, they knew it – hell, they were the reason for it – but it was all our own sweat and pizza stench so it was fine.  Probably others were bowled over when they walked in the door; we didn’t know, didn’t care.  But have you ever walked into the old-lady-with-the-newspapers-and-cat-house and just thought, Holy mother of God!.  That’s probably what Adrienne was worried about, and I’m sort of concerned for myself as well.
            Listen, I love my solitude. LOVE IT.  Growing up in a huge loud Italian household, peace and quiet was not optional and then I raised three boys which was akin to being a zookeeper.  Little boys, aside from being reckless and loud, are vaguely odiferous all the time.  I mean, you can scrub them in a bath and towel dry them and within seconds something’s marinating right away.  Also, I’ve been married a few times to grown-up men who also, well, were guys. At this point I treasure being alone in bed because sleeping with another human is tough, folks, at least for me.  Sex, snoring, sweat, hot flashes, restless legs, bad dreams – Geezus! I don’t think I had a full night’s sleep for decades, but I’m starting to worry that I spend too much time by myself and might start babbling in public or not washing my hair. I called a dear friend who has lived alone for a decade, to ask her whether too much solitude can be a bad thing.
            “Shut up a minute,” she said, which is a Jersey greeting for, Hey, how’s the family?, “I’m watching this giraffe in the Denver zoo have a baby.”
            And, there’s my answer.
            “No kidding, there’s like 75,000 people watching right now!” she was so happy, “But many are getting pretty pissed off that every time they sign on there’s no little giraffe feet coming out the mama’s hoo-ha.”
            She went on to tell me how people were fighting about this in the comments section.  Virtual fighting about a giraffe birth.  Is this being social? Or crazy?  Who’s crazy – me who sings really loud by myself all the time or “social” people who are angry at a pregnant giraffe?
I was sweating when I hung up the phone, but had no way to gauge how sweaty.  Was I smelly sweaty? Another friend of mine is a brilliant woman in the financial industry who’s an expert in all things olfactory because she was born with an acute sense of smell.  We went hiking once and she stopped dead at one point, shook her head and said,
            “Hey, did you smell that guy’s deodorant?”
            I didn’t of course but I was suddenly afraid that she had always been so kind to me because she pitied me.  There’s a rule among backpackers when they’re out in the wilderness together for long periods of time:  nobody gets clean, period.  If just one person “freshens up” it ruins everything for the rest of us, so the protocol on the trail is just stay smelly.  I did 17 days in the wilderness with Outward Bound and trust me, no one was clean but that’s a good thing.  It’s kind of like the really smart kid who ruins it for the lazy ones.
Aside from group rules around dirt, nobody thinks their own shit stinks and let’s face it we all must live with our own stench.  But if you live alone, how do you even know?  I guess Nature is crafty, protecting us from ourselves so that we turn a blind nose to our own odors. How could you stand being with yourself otherwise? The same is true for our own faults and character defects – you just don’t grasp them, especially when you live alone.  Will I become that old lady with the hot house who screams at the kids git off my grass!!!  Will I be Adrienne – Rocky’s mentally challenged girlfriend who works at a pet store for company?  Maybe I’ll be Rocky, the cranky fighter dude living alone with his turtles, Cuff and Link.
            Here’s the thing:  I am never lonely, not for a second.  Love surrounds me all the time and my cup overflows.  There’s nothing I lack and when I want to connect with a human I make a call or take a walk.  Meditation keeps me firmly grounded in the FACT that I’m not alone.  It’s a fact.  I don’t see boundaries between people (or animals, turtles, giraffes) and I know that I’m totally part of a big happy cosmic soup.  But honestly, I just wonder if too much solitude will make me weirder than I already am.
            Last week, driving back from Steamboat there was a freak spring storm and the pass was a nightmare.  I came upon this accident:

            A bunch of us stopped to help but I was the only person on scene who had a smidgen of medical training as an EMT.  There were some walking wounded, stumbling around in shock but I went right to the driver whose legs were completely entrapped.  He was conscious and breathing and someone had called 911;  I knew all I could do was hold his hand and talk to him until those fabulous EMS guys got there.  So, I did. He was hyperventilating, because he was terrified and in pain.  I was trying to slow his breathing down a bit and keep him calm.  I said,
            “There’s a bunch of good people here with you.  And we’re gonna stay with you.  We will not leave you alone.”
            And then the miracle happened, the thing I’ve seen hundreds of times when I worked in an ER as a tech.  His whole body relaxed.  I could feel it and see it.  He let out a big sigh and put his head back for a second, only a second.  He knew he was not alone and even in that terrible state this fact brought him great relief and comfort.  The pain and fear returned quickly but I’ve seen the same thing over and over; people relax in the worst circumstances when they know that they are not alone. We are all in this together and our human nature does not allow us to leave the wounded and the hurt.  We’re hard wired to love and help, despite everything you read or see.  Check your own feelings the next time you see someone struggle.  We help each other, especially the very young, the very old, and the sick. Do not believe what you read.

            So, I’m working out the difference between solitude and isolation, being a loner and being lonely, treasuring my privacy (unlike poor Alice, the mama giraffe in the Denver zoo) and building walls to keep other’s out.  Adrienne walked up those steps, remember, and went timidly into Rocky’s house, which apparently did NOT stink.  She met Cuff and Link and she and Rocky found love which is Hollywood adorable. But I know that love is everywhere, that like an aspen grove we are all connected at the root even though it looks like we live separately.  We don’t.  I think I’ll stay engaged enough in the world that I won’t spiral into isolation and bad hygiene. My house and my body will be fine, because Love is always in the air.  I can smell it.