Trump Tropes

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It’s become something of a Republican trope to blame any and all criticism of the President on not liking him.  Current GOP logic holds that there are no valid reasons to disagree with him or to attempt to hold him accountable…for anything.  Those who do – or try to – simply don’t like him…” It’s sour grapes” they say, “because he won 3 years ago!”  Or so his supporters would have us believe.  Of course, they are wrong.  Donald Trump has done and does plenty to cause concern among all Americans who hold The Constitution inviolable.

It’s time the Grand Old Party moved on from the 2016 elections and focused on today.  What is your Supreme Leader doing today?  Well, literally – in real time – he is bullying a teenager.  On his preferred method of communicating with the country he leads – Twitter.  Cyberbullying an Asperger (suffering?) climate activist because she beat him out of a magazine’s Person of the Year award?!  Wtf!?  But ok – unlikable – but not against the Constitution. 

But before that – while representing America overseas for a NATO Summit, a ‘hot mic’ moment caught world leaders mocking him. His response to the international faux pas was to leave early and rail to reporters and later diplomats about those involved.  Again – childish and humiliating – but not against the Constitution.

Which brings me to the impeachment hearings – and the incident that prompted the investigation that resulted in the Articles of Impeachment being considered today by the House Judiciary.  Donald J Trump, as President of the United States of America, sought to shake down the president of the Ukraine in a bold – movie influenced move befitting a scene from a killer gangster/politics film! He thinks he’s a Godfather – and his Party are happy to be cast as his Soldiers.

Tax Evasion, Emollient Clause infractions, Abuse of Power… Bribery…Obstruction. Trump has been accused of it all. To the extent that a fed up Congress is voting to impeach him for two of the most egregious charges – because they are criminal. Not because he is unlikeable. The best defense for the President is to welcome the investigations, participate and disprove the lot of them. Unless he’s guilty.

First Amendment First

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I’m confounded by the arguments against booing or mocking the president.  “It’s about the office, not the man,” the guardians of civil manners tell us.  These pillars of polite societal discourse admirably preach a restrained response that gives deference to title and station.  Mothers of a bygone era (and the nuns that taught me) would be proud.  Personally, I hold that neither job nor address automatically confer respect.  When the leader of your country is an amoral and corrupt criminal, voicing your disapproval is a civic duty.  It is important that those within and without our country’s borders see that not all Americans are for or like Trump.  This freedom to speak up and out – even – especially – to our leaders is sacrosanct.  We agree to disagree.  Sometimes loudly.  Sometimes humorously.    And sometimes to Presidents.  It’s the American Way.

We don’t have a Royal Family.  And we don’t have a Supreme Leader.  What we have is a Constitution.  That guarantees certain “unalienable rights” … to everyone.  President and Working Joe alike.  Reaching the top does not protect you from the public’s wrath if you break our trust.  Or the law.  Contrary to some of Trump’s advisors/followers – the president is not above the law or beyond public humiliation just because he’s POTUS.  Sooner or later he’ll be called out for bein naked if he’s not wearin any clothes.  As it should be.  As Joe would be.

This brouhaha over “Lock him up” chants at Sunday’s World Series has me completely baffled.  What country are we?  In what Universe is Donald Trump protected from public scorn…just because he’s President?  Karma’s a bitch!  And Irony is, well, ironic.  So, he’s hearing what he encouraged people to say about a political rival now directed at him.?!  Aww.  So sorry.  Not.  Deal with it, Donnie.

 

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History Unfolds

It’s funny how easy it is to not recognize the big moments in our

lives when we are living them.  We get caught up in the day-to-day

and so don’t appreciate the big picture playing out right in front of

us…. or our role in it.  Until it’s too late.  Our defining moments are

rarely announced with trumpet blasts or flashing neon lights.  The

most meaningful changes often occur gradually, quietly, with the

slow erosion of accepted behaviors and attitudes…  Familiarity

doesn’t always breed contempt – sometimes it brings approval.

We are beholden to the past.  But it’s a two-edged sword: if we are

wise, we learn from our mistakes and hold fast to the values that

brought us this far.

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Independence Day

With apologies to the authors of our Declaration of Independence, what is self-evident to even the most casual observer of American culture today isn’t our deep-seated belief that all men are created equal…it’s that we believe they’re not.   Nor do we believe all are entitled by virtue of their Creator to any unalienable rights, you know, like Life, Liberty or the pursuit of Happiness.  In fact, contrary to the simpler governing philosophy laid out by our founding fathers, who we deem as deserving of even the most basic of human rights depends more on skin-color, birth-country or politics than humanity. Or actual need.  And of course, the state of their bank account matters, too.  After all, money, well-spent, can open a lot of arms.  Welcome to America.

What is going on at our southern border…in plain view of congressmen and women and watchdog advocates and doctors and lawyers is unconscionable and un-American.   As with all abuse, this says so much more about the perpetrators than the victims.  We as a nation are degraded by the craven callousness of such policy implementation.  That we allow this treatment to occur speaks volumes about what kind of country we are.  Those in charge don’t even pretend anymore – it’s open corruption and self-interest.  We the people accept the unacceptable because it’s not happening to us personally and it plays to our biases.  But, man!  At what cost??

We have sold our souls to the Devil – and his name is Trump.  The cacophony of his MAGA messages and “Lock them up!” chants have drowned out the quieter voices of our better angels telling us to choose love.  But our promise still lives.  Reread the dreams an earlier Congress had for us at our country’s inception and put down for posterity in 1776. They believed in what we could be.  And I still believe.

As our country prepares tomorrow to celebrate the ascendancy of Donald J Trump with all the military accouterments he can muster, let’s not forget it started out as America’s Birthday.  Let’s declare our independence from the tyranny of those who would be king and celebrate what it means to be America,  again.

American Dreams

It was one of those online discussion groups that spring up in the comment section of a polarizing news story – an ‘us vs them’ thread fueled by jealously guarded preconceptions and party affiliations.  While it’s not uncommon for insults and hateful rhetoric to flow freely in such an anonymous either/or environment, that anyone saw the issue at hand as being debatable took my breath away… and brought tears to my eyes.  We were talking about children.  Specifically, immigrant children separated from their families and being held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention sites at the southern border.

A group of human right’s lawyers and doctors had recently broken the story of the inhumane treatment and terrible conditions they documented when checking on the well-being of hundreds of young detainees at several CBP facilities: No soap, no toothbrushes, no bathing.  No diapers or clean clothes.  Children taking care of children and sleeping on concrete floors in brightly lit, freezing cells.  Flu outbreaks and lice infestations.  Not enough food or water…or medicine.   And the court-imposed 72-hour deadline the government has for keeping those in their custody in such places? Stretched to more than 3 weeks for some unlucky internees.

That this is wrong and must stop – now! – should not be controversial or a matter of opinion.  Or time.  This is America for God’s sake!

We all talk about it…how we’ve become so divided, so partisan. We lament a United America.  One where we shared values…and enemies. And disagreed politely.  But, did we?  Ever?  Haven’t we always blamed an Other for our own hardships and failings? Our differences have always separated us, even as politically we pretended that they didn’t. “One nation under God” is more of an appeal than an American reality.  Our country was built on the backs of immigrants and slaves yet a fear of those ‘not like us’, of those not from where we are from – has permeated our culture from the beginning.  The only thing that changes is the home countries of our scapegoats.  And now their children.  C’mon man!

And still, they come… crossing deserts and dangerous rivers, people desperate for a chance – for a new life – showing up at checkpoints and official points of entry…or not, asking for refuge.  With no hope in their homelands, they risk it all for a shot at the American Dream.  So good is the hype of our promise they believe they have a chance. They believe America is guided by her better angels.

That’s what Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez believed when he jumped into the Rio Grande with his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria.

Gramma’s Connected: 5 Smart Choices For Senior Friendly Tech

I can age gracefully.  I don’t mind saying goodbye to bikinis and sexy lingerie.  And trading dancing till dawn for home by 11:00 is not a hard sell.  I get that Time might impose certain lifestyle limitations…and I’m fine with it.  To a point.  But don’t tell me I can’t read in bed anymore because it’s too difficult for me to see the small print.  Or that I can’t vacuum anymore because it’s too hard for me to push the carpet cleaner.  I won’t give up my clean floors without a fight.  And sure, I’d like to see more of my kids and grandkids, but I know they’re living their lives and distance and the day-to-day can get in the way.

In the past, we were told, “It is what it is” when faced with the challenges of growing older.  But that was then.  This is now … and now we live in wondrous times!  If you ever watched The Jetson’s cartoon back in the 1960’s you know what I’m talking about when I say, there’s a sense of deja vu to today.  And it’s not just the prospect of flying cars…  Thanks to available now tech we can personalize the size of the font in our reading material, clean our houses almost as easily as if we had Rosie and talk on the phone the way Jane did!  (Would someone please invent the fully made-up face mask for video-phone-calls at inopportune moments, lol?)  Technology can manage our shopping lists and even order our groceries for pick up or delivery!  We can see and speak to whoever comes knocking without opening the door!

Touting convenience and peace-of-mind, today’s array of electronic products for the home is growing.  They can help us compensate for the physical ravages of time and perform humdrum housekeeping chores for us.  They’ll keep us company and entertained even when we are alone and help us keep an eye on family and friends when we are apart.  And best of all?  These gadgets are not just for tech-savvy youngsters.  Here are five senior-friendly and affordable devices guaranteed to improve quality of life.

  1. Ebook-Reader: There are so many positives to having one of these I almost don’t know where to start. Not only can you adjust the size of the font and the brightness of the screen to accommodate your vision and setting (bedroom, beach, etc.) you can buy or borrow your reading material from the comfort of your own home at any given time of day or night! No more waiting until you can get to the library or book store.  Read when you’re ready.   A bonus for purchases:  an e-book is usually cheaper than ‘old-school’ paper.

    The original e-reader, The Sony Librie, (which evolved into the Sony Reader), now shares a lucrative field with several other brands: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo Aura One, to name just a few.  Competition means a broader price range. Shop around and you’ll find deals that run the gamut from $39 for an Amazon Fire 7 E-Reader Tablet to over a grand – depending on the brand and model.
    One pertinent point: with a Kindle, if you have an Amazon Prime account you have access to over a thousand FREE e-publications!  Books, magazines…  Annual membership currently costs $119 or $12.99 per month.  Besides the free reading, a prime membership allows you to stream movies, tv shows, and music as well as shopping and shipping deals.

  2.  Robo Vacuums: Roomba, anyone?! Personally, I think these are the greatest invention of our time.  I’ve been told I am something of a vacuum fanatic – I do it daily and always have: I raised four kids and for years always had a toddler or messy preschooler underfoot.  And we always had pets – a dog and a cat.  I was forever on the lookout for bugs from the crumbs and fleas from the fur.  So, I vacuumed EVERY DAY.  I no longer have kids crawling around – except when my grandbabies visit – and I have only one pet – a long-haired, indoor feline. But old habits die hard: I still don’t feel like my house is clean unless I’ve vacuumed.

    Before my introduction to robotic floor cleaners I would sometimes vacuum a room, rest, do another room, rest, and so on.  Then I heard about Roombas.  I knew the future had arrived!  Setting it up is as easy as plugging it in – though you can get a lot more ambitious with some models and program your cleaning for specific times or rooms or you can sync it to your smartphone to control with an app.  Me?  I just push the start button on the device and let it go while I get busy with other things…or nothing.  When it’s done, it docks itself on the charger!  Voila!  No crumbs or cat hair and I didn’t have to lift a finger!

    I recently spent $149 after discounts for a Roborox!  There is a wider variety of choices now and prices reflect that.  Research pays.

  3. Smart Speaker with or without video capability: Smart speakers, like Amazon Echo, are awesome.  They can access your contact list and make calls for you, hands-free.  They can tell you the weather, or the latest news and sports stats!  They will play games with you…Jeopardy, anyone?  Or tell you a joke.  You can play music and podcasts on them.  AI assistants will pay your bills, manage your shopping list and your calendar.  Timers, alarms, reminders… done.  Whatever information you need or want to know is just a question away.  Ask and you will receive.

    With screens, AI’s like Echo Show lets you see what you are asking for: the lyrics to the song that’s playing, a step-by-step video of the recipe you’re following…and the person you’re calling if they have one too!  Remember Jane?

    It’s a competitive marketplace and numerous companies including Amazon, Google, Apple, even Facebook are all vying for our consumer dollars.  Pricing can start as low as $29 for a Google Mini Speaker with no screen and $99 for Facebook Portal (screen) and go from there…up, up and away!    So always compare, compare, compare!

  4. Video Doorbell: Whether it’s late at night, early in the morning or just not a good time, screen unexpected (or expected) visitors without ever opening the door. Not home?  Not a problem: you can see and even speak to whoever rings right from your smartphone!   WIFI enabled, these doorbells can also be synched with Windows 10 on your home computer or tap into your Smart Speaker AI, (if it has a screen).  A subscription enhances the security aspect by storing videos but is not necessary for in-the-moment use.   

    With stiff competition, price points can be as low as $39 at Walmart to $250 and beyond for other brands.  Cost is just one consideration though: how much does ease of installation matter?  Battery operated ones just stick to the door or wall, easy peasy, while other types require a professional hand to replace an existing doorbell.  Do you want to store the videos for future viewing or is real-time capability alone enough? These are just some of the considerations that play to the bottom line.

    Answer these and any other questions you might have and do a Google search.  Read the reviews and check the ratings of the top results.  You’ll narrow the field considerably and find it a lot easier to make an informed choice.

  5. Smartphone: Smartphones are basically hand-held computers with text and phone capability. You can use them to get directions, play games, get on social media sites and a whole lot more. If you can do it on your pc you can do it on your smartphone.  All the tech listed in this article can be synched to such phones.  They can be purchased with or without contracts.  Pay-as-you-go plans – even from the big carriers – can be cheap.   Tracphone has a prepaid model for $28.  AT&T for $29.   It’s just about shopping around for what you want.

Most of these items require WIFI but online capability is already considered a necessity for a lot of us, I think – no matter what our age.  If you need to shop for service know that you can bundle internet accessibility with tv and/or phone plans or get stand-alone connections.  Options and prices vary depending on the providers in your area.  A little research showed a range of between $29 to $59 per month for internet alone in my location.

Someone once said, “Age is just a state of mind”.  That has never been truer than today and with the right tech, it’s nothing but a number!

Here We Go Again

So, Trump Party spokesperson and Attorney General William Barr says he’s got this.  According to him, Robert Mueller’s recently released (but not yet to us) Russia Connection Report contains no damning evidence about the president or his election.  God bless him, to save us all time and effort the AG even summarized the Special Counsel’s 300-plus-page paper with a 4-page letter of his own.  Nothing to see here, he declared.  No collusion.  No criminal obstruction.  Trust me, you can trust Trump.  Good lookin out, Bill. Thanks!

Now we can get back to the important stuff, like trying to repeal Obamacare…again.  How many times is this now??  70?  100?  It depends on who’s counting.  Suffice it to say, a lot.  But hey – if 100 times you don’t succeed – try, try again, right??  Isn’t there a name for this kind of hopeful obstinacy?  Oh yeah: insanity!!

I love (by which I mean I really hate) the way this administration and Congress run roughshod over the needs and rights of the less-than-wealthy.  Or the less-than-healthy.  How quickly we have all forgotten the pre-Obamacare days when almost 46 million Americans could not pay for healthcare.  Back then, a pre-existing condition was the kiss of death for anyone looking for medical insurance.  Already been diagnosed?  Boom!  No coverage for you…!

Always one to do things his way, no matter how ill-conceived, the president wants to repeal The Affordable Care Act…now.  A replacement plan can come later, I guess.  Sort of the cart before the horse, I know, but it works for POTUS.  Feeling his oats over what he perceives as his Mueller Report win, (or maybe trying to take hold of the conversation before the details are released or leaked?) he wants to put his name on something…and take Obama’s off.  If some people are left in the lurch, unable to afford healthcare, well, that’s a sacrifice they’ll be happy to make.  Just ask Trump.