How Horrible

It becomes impossible to ignore the dangerous and ill-advised actions by President Donald Trump.

To briefly note his most recent actions: on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Mr. Trump issued a statement that failed to make any mention of Jews. Why? An aide explained that by mentioning Jews other persecuted minorities would feel slighted. Apart from being thoroughly spurious, such logic has been widely used by those who would deny the Holocaust. And some of those people are among Trump’s advisors.

And then there was the executive order temporarily banning immigration from Muslim countries, an action which has created chaos in many places around the world and emboldens terrorists who use it to exploit the obvious Muslim anger. In other words, this is the sort of action that makes America less safe, less inclusive, less democratic, less constitutional. A nation that exalts its Christianity at the expense of other faiths.

This is not what our Founding Fathers wrote. It is an approach to the world that demeans all of us. That’s why the large protests that are occurring around the country — and the world — are good and necessary. This is unacceptable. And illegal, most certainly. It is the product of a clown mind submitting to the counsel of biased, uninformed and vindictive White House aides.

To his small hands we may add small mind.

Random Thought or Two

We have completed the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as this nation’s next President. What a disgrace for America’s highest office.

Can this man ever tell the truth? And why is anyone still believing anything he says?

Consider his inauguration, which he insists was attended by over a million people. Sad. Photos and videos make clear the crowd was in the neighborhood of 200,000. And what’s wrong with that? Only that Trump is eaten up with jealousy because the Women’s March drew half a million people, and that one single March in Boston probably had more attendees than Trump’s inaugural.

Why does he persist in lying? And lying about matters that clearly don’t matter?

He went to the CIA on Saturday and proclaimed his affection for the agency. He denied ever having feuded with it, although there is written and video evidence of his doing precisely the opposite. It’s a fact. To everyone except Trump and those who simply cannot discern a lie from a fact.

That would be people like Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who stood in front of the White House Press Corps and blatantly lied about the size inaugural crowd. Like his master, does he also have size issues? (Ask those women if size matters.)

And so we’re off and running into the new administration. The signs are ominous. Trump is clearly not a conciliator in any way; he remains just what he has seemed to be all along: a narcissistic, vindictive bully and weak thinker, a small man unqualified by temperament and intelligence for the job he now holds. What a pity. For all of us. Sad.

The Pervy Prez

In the new “post-truth” world of Donald Trump, we have something new to observe now. It seems the Donald may well have been cavorting with hookers, indulging in some kinky sex and in general setting himself up for some serious blackmail by those Russians he loves so much.

Funny, did anyone bring up these sorts of things with Lincoln, or Franklin Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson? Or even Millard Fillmore? (Let’s omit Bill Clinton from the discussion.)

These accusations are as yet unsubstantiated. And Trump says they are lies and part of a Nazi-like effort to demean him. Of course, Trump using Nazi references is somewhat amusing if not caustically abhorrent. But we now live in a Trump world where lies are routine and truths don’t matter. So there’s every reason to believe that where we find smoke, we will perhaps also discover fire.

No, I don’t know whether Trump hired prostitutes to pee on him. But I don’t find it unbelievable given what Trump himself has said about his sexual predilections (you know, all that grabbing stuff). Trump can certainly afford high-class hookers, he’s visited Russia many times, and the Russians surely know a lot about tapping into secret lives, don’t they?

And now we are on the verge of inaugurating Trump as President. A man who is a shady, sleazy businessman, a man who is a self-confessed sexual predator, a demagogue, a narcissist of the worst sort, a bully, an anti-intellectual blowhard, and a jerk with tiny hands.

What’s not to like? And you don’t think that’s true? Well, in a post-truth world, what is true anyway and what does it mean? Truth is what you believe. So there’s lots of reasons to believe the Russians have a lot of blackmail material on the incoming President of the United States. What a revolting development.

Random thoughts…

Does anyone with an IQ north of 100 use Twitter?

Kim Jong Un really is smarter than Donald Trump. And probably less narcissistic, too.

Remember when Chris Christie was actually someone?

Hollywood actresses should remember to look in their mirrors before they hit the red carpet. And pay attention to the silliness they see.

Wonder which one will show up first: Hillary Clinton or Jimmy Hoffa?

Best Christmas gift: a cheese-of-the-month subscription.

Has there ever been a group of presidential cabinet nominees more intellectually inept and ethically challenged than this one?

Can you spell “two-faced, shallow hypocrite”? It’s easy: “Mitch McConnell.”

Now we know Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly is a sexual predator. What is it with Fox News? It seems all those men are as creepy in their private lives as they are in public.

Poor North Carolina

Is there a stupider state these days than North Carolina? I say that with honest regret because I lived in the Tae Heel State for a few years when I was younger, and I’ve vacationed in the western mountains for many years. Not any more.

Ever since the lamentable “bathroom bill” was approved by a devious, yahoo Republican-controlled legislature, North Carolina has seemed ever more backward. Move aside Mississippi and Alabama, here come the Tar Heels. And now, with a Democratic governor coming into office, the Republicans are trying an 11th hour attempt to limit his powers.

Now, this isn’t altogether new in the state. I recall somewhat similar activities by the Democrats in the 1970s, but not with the obviousness and deliberate maliciousness of today’s Republicans. And they are ion a position to do that because they gerrymander the state a few years back to ensure their dominance. Because the federal courts say what they did is unconstitutional, it will be undone — but not before the GOp can get in its licks.

Republicans are also in power because they got elected by a lot of really stupid, venal voters. And those voters have succeeded din turning the state into a laughing stock. What a shame. There are many pockets of really bright, creative, concerned and capable people in North Carolina. They are all over: Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh and other towns and rural areas.

It makes me sick in their behalf. Frankly, North Carolina makes me sick right now. Alabama and Mississippi are looking a lot better these days.

Bah Humbug

There’s a lot that’s wrong these days. Our country is hurting. We have a President-elect who instead of trying to bring this bitterly divided nation together is continuing to spitefully celebrate his victory. There is little mention of unity in his words, mostly braggadocio and dissembling and instability.

His appointments to his cabinet have been grotesque. Men — nearly all wealthy white men, of course — have been proposed to run departments of government whose existence they are politically and philosophically opposed to the mere existence.

Ben Carson, for instance, who declared he was not up to running a government agency, has been no innate for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a task for which he is monumentally unsuited. Like many other nominees, he has no experience in government or in managing a gigantic governmental program. For Secretary of State, he has proposed Rex Tillerson (is that a real name?), an oil executive who is ultra-friendly with Vladimir Putin and who has no experience in government of governmental diplomacy.

Donald Trump’s admiration for Putin is alarming. Donald Trump’s disregard for intelligence about Putin is frightening. How safe is our nation if its leader is so lacking awareness? If our President is not capable of defending us against our adversaries, how dangerous is he?

Frankly, there has been almost nothing in his behavior and words since his election to reassure anyone of his competence or ability to oversee the American people. He continues to … well, let’s put it bluntly: lie. He makes statements that are by all evidence untrue. And insists they are true.

Many of us who voted against Trump hold hope that he may yet prove a competent President. In an ideal world, even better than that. But instead, we have only encouragement for his dabbling in the dark waters of racism, economic malfeasance, diplomatic ignorance and a litany of legitimate concerns for everyone from women to Muslims to immigrants to the poor.

I want this to be a happy Christmas. Donald Trump is doing everything possible to ensure that cannot happen.

Let’s Get On With It

By and large, Connecticut is a pretty progressive state, socially speaking. They are some sharp, thoughtful, and compassionate people at work here, and I have a suggestion for what two of their political targets should be: approving early voting and legalizing recreational marijuana.

More than two-thirds of the states have endorsed some form of early voting, a process that can make it easier for more people to cast ballots in major elections. And isn’t that our goal, ultimately? A fully informed electorate able to vote easily and quickly? (Ok, maybe I’m a tad optimistic about that informed electorate bit.)

But to cram all voting into one day — and yes, I know about absentee ballots, and that some people get them to avoid long lines at the polls — is ridiculous and diminishing of the voting process. Registrars don’t like it a lot, mostly because it means more work for them (who are paid by the taxpayers to do their jobs). that’s not a reason, that’s an excuse. Voting ought to be open at least two weeks prior to the election, which affords everyone time to sort out the issues and candidates.

It simply good sense and the right thing to do. A majority of voters who voiced opinions about this several years ago in Connecticut disapproved; I’m pretty sure that if it were put to a vote again, the results would be different. This is a matter the legislature can take care of, and should. Let’s get on with it; in this area, at least, Connecticut has fallen behind Georgia and a host of other states it shouldn’t.

As for marijuana, well, this one seems obvious. Massachusetts has joined a growing list of states which have approved marijuana for recreational use. so has Maine, and other New England states are almost certain to follow suit over the next decade. So let’s not wait.

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy says he’s willing to re-examine the issue now that our neighbor to the north has endorsed it. And well he should, because if you don;t think a heck of a lot of Nutmeggers are going to slip across the border to buy their weed and bring it home, then perhaps you’ve been smoking too much.

Why give Massachusetts all the revenue? Why force our residents to do something illegal that is perfectly legal for our neighbors? Why not endorse common sense: study the use of recreational marijuana, decide on how to regulate and tax it, and then get on with it. Really.

Getcha’ Greens Here

An awful lot of Americans really are awfully crazy. And no, I’m not talking the ones who voted for Donald Trump. I’m referring to the ones who bought collard greens from Neiman Marcus.

If that sounds strange, consider this: in its annual provocative Christmas catalog, the expensive retailer offered, as one of more unusual seasonal gifts, three pounds of collards for sale. The price was a mere $66 plus nearly $16 to ship them, presumably to locations where agriculture is legally prohibited.

Just checking on this, I discovered that in these parts — which are nowhere around the southern parts where collards got their start — you can buy a pound of collards for about a dollar. One dollar. There way our family has always cooked them up, three pounds would make about five decent servings.

Now, here’s the thing. The Neiman Marcus offer was ridiculous in every way. But in fact it sold out. There were enough nutty people who were willing to fork over $82 for a few greens. Surely a lot of them must have voted for Trump, right?

Down south where I’m from — and where collards are from, too, although Neiman Marcus made no mention of the south in its advertising copy — people would probably just brush this aside as more evidence of clueless non-southerners. And they’d be right.

I’d enjoy seeing the reaction I’d get if I sauntered over to my local farmer’s market and offered one of the growers $66 for three pounds of greens. Being smart Yankees, I bet they’d take it in a skinny minute (or at least I would if given that offer).

And they’d probably then offer me some fresh greenhouse tomatoes, too, for only $45 a pound. There are most likely some folks around who’d take them up on it.

Wanna’ Get Away From It All?

In the wake of the presidential election results, some Americans are eager to explore their options — also known as run really fast — for moving to some other place on the planet. Preferably one that has legalized marijuana.

Which brings us to the matter of New England as a possible destination for those concerned citizens. And not to be too overtly political about it, but you may have noticed that the New England states voted blue in the election, so blue huggers would find a warm reception, although the warmth of the reception could depend a lot on how close you get to the wood stove in February.

But really, there are a lot of reasons to recommend New England. And there’s a lot to recommend Connecticut specifically. The Nutmeg State is one of the most beautiful anywhere. All those stone walls. And sparkling coastal water vistas and breathtaking hilltop views in the northwest. In between, of course, is Hartford, but you can’t have everything.

Actually, we love Hartford. And so did Mark Twain. And Harriet Beecher Stowe. And Katharine Hepburn. And those hearty founders — none of whom was named Hartford, by the way — who named the new place they founded “Newtown,” admittedly not a very original name but certainly one that made them feel comfy since they had arrived here after an arduous journey from a town then called — brace yourself — “Newtown.”

Anyhow, New England holds out so much promise for new arrivers these days. Think about lobsters. Think about winter skiing. Think about all that cheese in Vermont. And Bunker Hill. New Hampshire liquor prices. The Red Sox. Casinos. Legalized marijuana. P.T. Barnum. Really.

The list is almost endless.

I am part of a family who moved to Connecticut just recently, so I know a lot about this. We had some lengthy discussions about the state before deciding this was where we wanted to make our home. We made the decision for several important reasons:

It is pretty far away from Alabama;
It’s pretty close to Canada;
Lobsters and oysters;’
The Mark Twain Home;
Low taxes;
(Oops, #5 was my bad);
Our kids live here.

Granted, the latter may have been a tad more compelling than the others in our final decision. But no matter, the facts are that we are delighted to be here, even if we keep getting told that everyone else is trying to leave Connecticut.

New England is extraordinarily rich in history. Its people are warm and hospitable, unless you’re driving in Boston. The winter weather is a heck of a lot more bearable than the heat and humidity of southern summers. That Vermont cheese is really good. You never have to drive far to a Dunkin Donuts (heck, you never have to walk far). And did I mention legalized marijuana?

So I’m hoping that those folks around the country who now think about leaving might decide instead to take a good, hard look at New England. And Connecticut. You know, it might really work out.

Remember Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court?” The novel’s hero Hank Martin (played by Bing Crosby in the movie) wakes up and asks where he is.

“Bridgeport?” Said I.
“Camelot,” Said he.”

Could be.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s far from the happiest of Thanksgivings, to be sure. But here it is, so let’s press on.

All of us have a special obligation now: to work for the betterment of our democracy. I believe that entails two important steps: one is to work with the President-elect in the pursuit of policies that are important and good for the country. The second is to work with every bit of commitment to see that everyone — most especially the most vulnerable in society — are protected and encouraged during the next administration.

In other words, the policy of total obstruction as observed by the Republicans over the terms of Barack Obama, must not be the course followed by Democrats in 2017. The temptation is there, certainly, but it was a poor practice which undermined our government, and doing what those profoundly misguided Republicans did is not policy at all. It would be shameful, in fact.

We all owe it to our democracy to be participants, but never blindly so. Let us pick our battles. Do what it right and best no matter the source.

At least that’s the plan. I’m for it and will support those who are likewise committed. Let’s hope it turns out to be the great majority.